<#047> Why you should stop thinking On vs. Off-trade and start thinking Bottom-up vs. Top-down Trade (and 4 things to look for)

<#047> Why you should stop thinking On vs. Off-trade and start thinking Bottom-up vs. Top-down Trade (and 4 things to look for)
Photo by Jannick Nijholt / Unsplash

You know how big of a fan I am of On-trade. You also know I am not a big fan of building brands in Off-trade. But through the years, I have changed my perspective. Consumers' habits have changed and home consumption has premiumized a lot.

On top of that, not all Off-trade is the same and some of them can play a huge role in building your brand bottom-up. So why did I start talking about Bottom-up Trade? I felt that the old nomenclature of On and Off-trade is very sales-driven.

I understand it's needed to know where to sell but it's obsolete for brand building.

All brand-building manuals recommend launching On-trade. After the brand becomes "hot" it is time to launch in Off-trade. But they don't differentiate between types of Off-trade outlets. A supermarket is different from a Wine Shop.

They also don't mention that there's a time in which you should start seeding Off-trade.

Am I suggesting opening up distribution earlier? Not at all. I am saying that a bottle shop or an Enoteca is not the same as a supermarket shelf.

When seeding your brand, it's important to start from your street, and your neighborhood before expanding to the rest of the city and country. But On-trade outlets are not enough anymore. You can't rely on your loyal consumers to drive sales only when they go out. You must follow their journey when they feel like drinking at home and ensure your brand is available for that occasion.

The Bottom-up Trade: The red dots are Bars and Restaurants and the Orange are Bottle Shops but they both allow brand building in them.

Caveat: not all cities are the same. In some countries, bottle shops play an important role. In some others, they are rare to find. Regardless, they can complement your on-trade strategy in a great way, even if there are only 5 stores in your city.

Cities with historically thriving wine businesses tend to have important bottle shop markets that complement bars and restaurants.

It's important to understand that it's not about an On or Off-trade outlet. It's about what that outlet can do for your brand, whether it is a wine shop or a nice bar.

At the same time, not all On-trade outlets are the same. Outlets in which the owner or the staff doesn't care about the products they sell are useless for building brands and they can be considered "Top-down" trade.

What are the 4 top aspects to make it a Bottom-up trade Outlet?

It's not black and white but these are the top ones: