Selling Craft Spirits

Jan 19 2018

Selling Craft Spirits

After the release of Discovering The New York Craft Spirits Boom in July 2015, I had an epiphany.  It became evident that although much has been accomplished, much was left to be done.

During a number of events to promote the book, conversations revealed common challenges. Although there was support of craft distillers, the conversion wasn’t there. Most were experiencing significant setbacks.

With more than 10 years of sales experience under my belt, I saw it as an opportunity to use my skillset to help build an industry I am passionate about. I wanted to be part of the solution.

I am sure you have heard the saying. “You can’t see the forest for the trees”.  In this business, there is such immense competition, unless you truly understand your audience, the battle can be expensive and painful.

As I put boots to the street, a number of things became crystal clear. As I met with retailers and received their rather unfiltered feedback, these are some of my takeaways.

Price. No one is suggesting that this should be a race to the bottom, but gone are the days that customers would pay any exorbitant fee just because your product is hand crafted and local. I know care is taken to source the best ingredients that can be found. But if there is no margin, there is no business. That simple. I am not suggesting that you compromise quality, but take the time to determine what your options are that would allow both you and the retailer to profit. It does no one any good if your product sits on the shelf. Not you or the buyer.

Category. If your dream is to create a fabulous spirit that is a hybrid, because it does not fall into a particular category. Watch out. Now you are entering the world of the item that needs to be “hand sold”. That is not a place that retailers love. Especially high volume ones. There are a number of niche stores and bars that thrive on that level of uniqueness. But they are not in the majority.

Distribution. If you are reading this. You probably know what I am about to say, but it is worth repeating. Distributors will not build your brand. You need to do all of the heavy lifting first and maintain a sales team that would focus on your brands. That is, in addition to their team. Because their team already have their hands filled with 100 other products just like yours.

We would all like to make an impact and leave our footprint on the earth. This can be a very fun and interesting way to do so. But be mindful that every part of this, is a process. One that should not be measured by what your neighbor did. Trust me, you have no idea what they are really going through.

With that in mind and the acceptance that it is a very slow but steady process, that may well position you to be the next overnight success! Never mind it took you 10 years!

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