In one of my hundreds of meetings overseas, visiting an importer, a big poster on the wall of a board room caught my eye. It said: "Distribution Sells."
In a second, I understood what kind of meeting I was going into. It was a disaster. It was like taking a trip back to the 1980s.
Why? Because driving distribution to reach targets is the recipe for another dusty bottle on the shelf.
I may be biased because my early experience comes from Beer. There's an expiry date, so you immediately understand that you need to drive rotation. If not, the product goes off, and no bar owner would repurchase it. Beer also requires refrigeration; fridges are usually small and easy to fill up.
In Spirits it's different. With products virtually without expiry date, salespeople focus on the first sale. Also, a back bar is much bigger than a fridge. It's much easier to convince someone to bring it on, even if hidden in a corner behind two lines of bottles. 👇🏻
Pushing brands is not sustainable.
My 4 reflections:👇🏻
I've often gotten stuck in meeting rooms discussing if we should drive distribution or ROS (Rate of Sale or Velocity).
The issue with that is that if you are lucky enough to be with a powerful importer in a market, it's quite easy to get distribution. You get their sales team attention, they will flood the market in one month and make it available everywhere.
The result? You may have reached your yearly budget but next year your brand is dead. It's dusty everywhere in a city where nobody will ever buy it again. That's the way to burn a brand.