Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Conceptualization of New Beverages at Retail

With a new beverage product introduction, you must establish your presence at retail by using imaginative and ingenious methods that focus on key attributes of your product. This should be easy, one would think, for large companies with seemingly unlimited capital (i.e. Coke, Pepsi, AB, or Miller), but I write this from the outlook of a small emerging beverage company. A company that may have one new, niche beverage in the process of building their brand from the ground up, market by market.

As a wholesaler, I am inundated with new beverage opportunities. Many of these brands are viable, great tasting products that could contend in my market. Many are concoctions thrown together with a high margin. Some even have great POS and beautiful packaging. Most all miss the boat on the conceptualization of their new product in go-to-market retail strategies.

The definition of conceptualization when applied to a new beverage is complex. The term loosely means to form by concept, which, for us, is very broad and vague. I define beverage conceptualization as the formation of beverage strategies through the consideration of multiple economic impressions. These economic impressions include, but are not limited to: originality, accessibility, availability, acceptability, dependability, positioning, and marketability.

Now when brainstorming and building your beverage concept you have an outline to help build your go-to-market strategy. Ask yourself questions based on all the economic impressions I have listed above. Some example questions are:

1.Is my product original? Is there a need for it? Has it been done before? Am I jumping on the bandwagon?

2.Is my beverage easy to use? For anyone?

3.Where do you find my beverage? Can it be bought in retail easily?

4.Is my product worth buying? Why does anyone buy it? Is it beneficial to the consumer?

5.Is it a quality product? Can you guarantee its proclaimed virtues? What about imperfections in manufacturing?

6.Do the wholesaler and retailer understand my market blueprint? Is my plan too ambitious? Do I have set, easy to achieve distribution objectives?

7.Can my product be sold profitably for everyone involved?

If you can answer these questions easily and positively, you are well on your way to marketing a successful beverage. You have an outstanding product that fulfills a need in the marketplace. But don’t start having dreams of huge wealth and success. History is cluttered with beverage companies that developed unique products and then squandered their opportunity with arrogant management, excessive spending, and idiotic policy. Many of these companies believed that the retail tier is where their fortunes laid. When in fact it is the wholesale tier. First and foremost, you must take advantage and develop good relations with wholesalers. Build your programming with language the distributor and his sales force can understand. Give equal incentives to all distributors, big and small. Never, ever penalize a distributor because his market isn’t very large, you must understand he is just as important as the largest. Treat the wholesaler as you would your best customer. Once distributors believe and trust in you and your product, you will find your beverage in the cooler and on the shelf everywhere.

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