How to match your drinks brand with a distributor

How to match your drinks brand with a distributor
Photo by Jerome / Unsplash

One often hears: in "that" market, you should go with "that distributor", they are the best ones for a brand like yours!

  1. What's my brand like?
  2. Is my brand ready for the service level details of that distributor?

There are hard and soft factors in choosing distributors:
we tend to segment distributors just based on:

  • size (i.e. small, medium, large)
  • positioning (i.e. mainstream, premium or prestige brands)
  • channel focus (i.e. access to top on-trade, mainstream on-trade, modern trade)
  • portfolio fit (i.e. what type of brand they carry in their portfolio & our role in it)


We rarely consider another aspect: the back of the house.

  • do we want the same results from "that" brand in "that" market?
  • are we aligned on the pace at which to build "that" brand?
  • are we aligned in terms of mindset and ways of working?
  • are we on the same company maturity / development?
  • do we agree on frequency of stock fulfilment?
  • are we aligned in level of depth of reporting and frequency?
    in a nutshell: are we aligned on the soft parts, too?


It's easy to agree on dreams.

Relationships are tested when there is "dust" on the bottles and you switch on the fan.

Contracts agree on hard factors.

Relationships fall out on soft factors.

Look at the devil in the details.