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Melbourne and Sydney will become the centre of the wine, beer and spirits world when the Australia Trade Tasting and conference opens its doors. Brands showcased at Australia Trade Tasting are looking to grow their distribution and are ready for business! Come and source your next winning brand here.

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Here is what you will learn at AuTT Conference

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  • How to manage and grow your brand. By Glenn Cooper
  • How to pitch your brand to independents bottleshops. By Giuseppe Minissale
  • How to make people fall in love with your brands. By Stuart Gregor.
  • How to create a culture and how to share that with your customers. By Andre Eikmeier
  • How to grow your brand in on-premise accounts. By Jenna Hemsworth
  • How to create effective retail merchandising programs that work in retail. By Rose Scott
  • How to build your brand as a sustainable brand. By Bill Lark
  • How To Pitch Your Brand To A Prospective Distributor. By Kathleen Davies
  • How to sell as the founders of the world’s highest selling wine brand ‘Barefoot’ take on the stage and talk on Sales Fixes Everything: Seven Level of Sales tiers. By Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey

Only few seats left, don’t miss this solid content to help you grow your business.

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Melbourne International Wine Competition Announces Winners for 2015

0Y9A3763MIWC LogoMelbourne, Australia. July 20, 2015 The Melbourne International Wine Competition (MIWC) is pleased to officially announce the winners of the second annual MIWC competition. Recognizing the stamp of truly remarkable value, the double gold and gold medals were given out to wines which demonstrated the most exceptional taste against the competition in their price category.

“Championing through double blind taste tests from judges representing some of Australia’s leading industry establishments, the MIWC award winners truly stood out as exceptional wines,” Said Adam Levy, MIWC President. “To be a winner here at MIWC means you have come to one of the world’s leading wine regions and won the reverence of some of its most influential judges.”

With over 600 entrants from around the world, the competition exemplified the growing importance of the Australian industry in the wine world. MIWC would like to extend our congratulations to the winners and thank everybody who made the 2015 competition such a big success.

MIWC DOUBLE GOLD WINNERS

All Other White Dessert Wines – 6.1% and Above Residual Sugar, Australia
Lillypilly 2012 Noble Harvest

Cabernet Sauvignon Australia, South Australia, $25 and Higher
Eldredge Vineyards 2012 ‘RL’ Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon Australia, Victoria, $25 and Higher
Blue Pyrenees Estate Richardson 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
Glenwillow 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

Chardonnay Australia, Adelaide Hills
Bird in Hand 2012 Chardonnay Adelaide Hills

Chardonnay Australia, South Australia
Beresford Classic Chardonnay 2014

Chardonnay Australia, Western Australia
ALDI Stores A.C. Byrne 2014 Chardonnay
EVOI Wines 2012 Chardonnay
EVOI Wines 2013 Chardonnay

Dry Red Meritage/Bordeaux Style Blends, Australia
EVOI Wines 2012 The Satyr

Methode Champenoise, Brut Vintage
Champagne Collet 2006 Collection Privee

Pinot Noir, Australia $30 and Lower
Frogmore Creek 2010 Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir, Australia $30.01 and Higher
Soumah of Yarra Valley 2014 Equilibrio Pinot Noir

Shiraz Australia Barossa $25 and Higher
Small Gully 2012 “The Pilgrim” Shiraz
Soul Growers 2013 Provident Shiraz
Soul Growers 2013 Slow Grown Shiraz

Shiraz Australia McLaren Vale $25 and Higher
Aramis Vineyards 2012 The Heir Syrah

Shiraz Australia, New South Wales
Moppity Vineyards 2013 Shiraz
Moppity Vineyards 2013 Eclipse Shiraz
Stockman’s Ridge Wines Outlaw 2009 Shiraz
Wyndham Estate 2009 Black Cluster Shiraz

Shiraz Australia, South Australia, $25 and Higher
St Andrews 2013 Shiraz
Taylors The Pioneer Shiraz 2012 Shiraz

0Y9A3815For a complete list of the Double Gold, Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners, as well as the Individual Award winners, please visit the official Winners Area of MIWC website.

MIWC is also pleased to announce its partnership with Australia Trade Tasting. To exemplify the excellence of this year’s class, the winners of the competition will be showcased at Australia Trade Tasting (AuTT) in a dedicated press area.

Distributors, retailers and press are invited to taste the winning brands at AuTT in Melbourne on August 31, and in Sydney on September 7. For more information about tasting MIWC winners and to reserve your free entry to AuTT, please visit the official Press and Buyers reservation page on the AuTT Website (FREE, RSVP now to avoid $25 gate fee).

For more information on MIWC, please contact Adam Levy at adam@melbourneintlcomp.com

About MIWC – The Melbourne International Wine Competition is the first major international wine competition with TRADE ONLY judges comprised of: buyers from the top retail stores, sommeliers, restaurant owners, hotel beverage directors, distributors and importers. Unlike other wine competitions, these judges have purchasing power and the ability to make a direct impact on brand sales.

CONTACT: Adam Levy | adam@melbourneintlcomp.com

Cash Flow Tips for Australian Wineries Looking to Distribute in the USA

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Taking a new Australian wine label to the US means competing against entrenched brands who have worked hard to build their market and earn their shelf space.  It is a highly competitive marketplace that needs constant attention and dedicated sales teams – very expensive tasks for small, international brand owners.

Luckily, Australian wine has had a recent resurgence in popularity across the USA.  Due in part to the strength of the US dollar, the growing distributor, retailer and consumer awareness of Australia’s knack for high quality offerings at affordable price has driven Aussie wine sales to heights not seen in decades.  In order to lend your sales number to the developing picture of Australia’s recent trend, you will want to take advantage of as many innovative cash flow strategies as you can to float yourself while you build your market and get your feet on solid ground.

In the very simplest terms, the goal of properly managing cash flow in a period of expansion is to be capable of covering your need for capital as your costs grow.  Unfortunately, this can be a tricky course to sail for export brands because the more capital you need for shipping, sales reps and support programs the more demand there is on your cash flow and the less profitability there is in the venture.

Understanding your cash flow can help you grow your wine label from a locally distributed commodity to an international label, but chances are you will need to take all of your operating profit and put it back into the company every step of the way.  In other words, you can’t manage cash flow with profit as a priority if you plan on growing distribution. Your money is coming ‘out-of-pocket’ and the amount of money you can raise to invest in your expansion comes right down to the very basics – the difference between your payables and your receivables.

Here are AuTT USA Conference Keynote Speakers Bonnie Harvey and Michael Houlihan’s top tips on managing your cash flow for successful expansion into the USA.

1. Use your buyers as your banker.

One of the first things you will learn is that when buyers buy big they sell big. The reason they are buying big is because they know they can sell your product.  Understanding this can give you the confidence to offer buyers discounts on larger orders they pick up and pay right away.

For example, find partners that have a history of buying a certain volume. Go to them and offer them a deal for 2X the volume at your pay-by-cash discounted rate, but give them a 4 or 5 day period to pay down the account. This way, you can receive the money in a week rather a month or two month period.

This type of deal only works with your largest partners, like direct to big box stores or government controlled monopolies. If you want a distributor to get on board, you’ll have to pre-sell your goods to their largest partners so that they don’t have to take on any additional risk.

2. Use your supplier as your Banker.

You can’t use your supplier as your banker unless your supplier trusts you. Your buyer has to believe that you’re always going to pay his bill. So if you know you can’t pay the bill, then you need to communicate with them. Tell them about the checks that you have coming in that are ear-marked for them and when you plan to bring the account current. Never put them in the uncomfortable position of collecting. The biggest relationship killer is to ‘run-and-hide’ from your unpaid accounts, especially when the people you are doing business with are waiting for your payments to pay their own bills.

You need to meet with the people you are doing business with on a quarterly basis. Tell them what your goals and challenges are and what you are doing to increase your business. They understand that when you increase your business they are also increasing their business, so give them the overall picture and ask them for their help.

If you are planning to expand into a new market then communicate your supply needs. Tell your suppliers that you need to up your orders, but don’t have the cash flow to buy it up front. If you have been developing your business model around the same supplier, then they should see that fronting you the goods will benefit them in the long run. Increasing your credit with your supplier and thereby reducing your needed cash can give you the extra wiggle room you need to successfully expand.

3. Understand Your Costs

If you can’t wrap your head around how to scale your business at the same time as you are trying to run operations, then get somebody who does. Hire a cost accountant. These guys specialize in understanding the relationship between the cost of goods and the cost of sales.

As you expand, your variables can really put a wrench in the works. It can get complicated when you are working in new regions with different retailers using exclusive distributors who all want a different price for your various products and you can develop a big headache trying to maximize the variances in volume, costs, shipping, pricing as well as everything else that comes with doing business in new markets.

You cost accountant will be able to tell you how long it will take in days, months or years to show operating profit. A lot of people think they can go through brokers, but you’ll need to be putting your operating profit to work on your own payroll no matter what. Once you are in the black, invest money into growing your money and looking at further expansion.

4. Expand Slowly

Make sure you cover all your bases when you are expanding. You will need to hire new reps in new territories and understand all costs associated with doing business in the new market. You want your own management and sales force properly installed in each territory before you think about expanding again. It is much better to be a top seller in a niche market then a mediocre seller in a big market because your reputation always proceeds you.

When you go into a new market, you are cash-out-of-pocket for close to a year. The amount of money you need to get sales running smoothly is intimidating because it seems like you aren’t making enough money to justify the kind of expenses you incur. You have to be patient and believe in your plan. That’s why it’s good to get a cost accountant working for you who can clearly delineate a plan that shows you an ultimate intersect between cost and revenue.

When you hire your new regional representative they are going to want a $40k-$60k base salary whether or not they make a sale. It’s a tough pill to swallow when you are trying to minimize your costs in a new market, so be sure to structure your sales rep salaries so they are hungry enough to make another sale. Don’t take the first rep that comes along – take your time and choose somebody who is ready to put in the due diligence and grow with your brand.

5. Outsource as much as possible

If your ultimate goal is to run a profitable and expanding company, then find ways to outsource your supply needs. You don’t need to grow your own hops or own your distillery to have a successful business. There are plenty of vineyards who aren’t selling grapes and there are plenty of vineyards who are underutilized who need your business.

You’ll need to write very clear agreements for the quality of the goods and services you are willing to pay for. If they don’t give you the quality that the promised you, make sure you don’t need to pay top dollar for it.

If you have vetted interest in every aspect of your supply chain then your goods become tied to the operational costs associated with the final product. This means that if you have your bottling line break down or it hails in your vineyards then you are stuck going to market with an expensive, potenially sub-par product. With contracted services, you can really limit your risk and investment by working with in confines of solid contracts.

Don’t be production minded, be sales minded. What happens to the majority of brands that fail is that they are forced into sales because they are producing goods. They feel obligated to bottle their goods, put a label on it and go to market. That is production driven sales and is the wrong way to build a brand in the US.

The way to successfully build a brand is to start with a purchase order and work backwards. In other words, don’t produce goods if you can’t sell them. If you make it and you can’t sell it, then you are going to destroy your cash flow.

This is another reason to start slow if you are selling vintage wine or production goods. It’s better to sell out than to have too much, but neither is desirable. To maximize sales and keep your partners happy, you always want to be able to stock shelves no matter how fast your velocity is. If you are outsourcing contract goods and services, you have a better chance at keeping up with supply demands across multiple markets.

6. Getting a Big Order is a Big Responsibility.

When you have to bottle up for a big order you need to go back to your suppliers and ask them for help. They need to believe that you are going to take them with you as you grow, so give them the opportunity to take on this challenge with you.

Your suppliers generally work with multiple customers, so they may have to take a risk on providing you with the extra supply over giving it to their other existing accounts. If that’s the case, then that supplier might potentially lose a customer while increasing their stock in your success. This again exemplifies the fact that developing longstanding relationships with your suppliers is so important.

7. Be Prepared for the Non-Paying Buyer

Getting the run-around is never fun. The way to minimize the chances at accruing non-paying accounts is to get your accounts receivable department develop working personal relationships with the accounts payable departments of your buyers. This means that your employees know the name of the person who writes the checks and they know when those checks are being written. The more personal the relationship the higher up the check stack you will be.

8. Be Ready for Distributors who Don’t Participate (or Stop Participating) in the Cost of Programming

No matter what market, programming is an essential tool for successful sales. If you are doing all the programming yourself it can be a big financial burden. You need to make a long term agreement with your distributors about what you can expect in terms of support.

Evergreen agreements (which means that you sign 3 year contracts that are renewed every year) are a good way to start. These can drastically reduce the cash flow risks you have in terms of developing successful sales programming in new markets.

These types of agreements are usually account to account. For instance, if your distributor is supplying a large retailer in Florida, then you need to have an agreement with your distributor that clearly states the programming expectations for both you and your distributor in that account. The whole idea of price reduction is that it starts with the producer, but if the distributor doesn’t cooperate then the producer has to pay 100% of the price reduction because they don’t want to risk getting discontinued by the large retailers. In the government control states, the producer has to do all of the programming 100% of the time.

These are the issues with programming that you need to plan for BEFORE they have a devastating effect on your cash flow. Always understand your programming responsibilities and have contingency plans for when these responsibilities are increased due to unforeseen circumstances.

9. Discontinued(s)

Last but not least is the dreaded Discontinued. If a buyer decides to bring in another product and discontinue your brand then you will need to find a way to replace those sales to balance your cash flow. This generally happens about once a year in January and February.

What you can do is to look at the product that is replacing yours and find out where they are coming from or look at the market and see where other brands have been discontinued. Once you have some good targets you can approach the distributor or retailer and offer your product as a superior alternative. Outline your established chain of sales and show them that you are primed for success.

The other way to avoid a DC is to understand the metrics that the buyer uses every year in January and February to cut underperforming products. In October and November you should know if you are ‘on-the-bubble’ or not. You always want to have a representative in the territory so you can see this kind of problem coming. Your rep should know that your numbers are off way before the OND sales period and you should be developing a program, ad or community outreach strategy that focuses on optimizing distributor metrics as well as increasing demand and sales during the holiday sales period.

Looking to learn more on beer, spirits or wine sales and distribution? Get involved with Australia Trade Tasting educational conference on 1st and 2nd September in Melbourne.

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Top Ten Tips to Take Your Wine Brand National in the USA

After you find an effective import solution to get your wines into the USA, building your wine brand into a national icon means understanding the ins and outs of state compliance and building your brand from the retail shelf back to your winery. A solid understanding of each market, the business practices of your partners and the peculiarities of your customer base are all important aspects of your market entry strategy.

Wine Brand Building in USA

The Wait Wines, A Store Chain Placement

Here are ten tips to get your wine brand ready to expand distribution, develop a resilient sales process and successfully become a national brand in the USA:

1.       Understand what everybody wants at every level of the distribution channel and be prepared to give it to them.

The distributor’s owners always want to have a strategic advantage when they are selecting a new product for their profile. For example, some distributors might want:

  • ·         you to pre-sell a retailer in their territory;
  • ·         the exclusive rights on your product;
  • ·         support program budgets;
  • ·         the chance to do more business with their key retailers.

Before you even go to the distributor find out specifically what is they want to see from new brands in their portfolio because it is essential that you figure out what will make them confident enough to take on your brand.

Retailers have very similar desires to distributors. They want your product to sell and aren’t willing to wait around for a non-performing SKU to gain market traction.  They want you to have a hungry consumer base in their local market that is asking for your product and a clear merchandising/support program that outlines how you are going to increase sales.  Talk to key retailers and mold your sales process to cater to their market specifics.

2.       Start small and don’t spread yourself too thin. Get the reputation of being a hot mover even if it is in a small market area.

There is nothing worse than being labeled a slow mover when you are starting out.  If you spread yourself too thin you won’t be able to take advantage of any new opportunities that come your way. Chances are you won’t be able to service your accounts up to the necessary standards either.

Limit your markets to areas where you can implement immediate changes and have an immediate impact on the success of your brand.  When you start small you learn about all of the different challenges that you are going to face while also giving yourself the ability to limit any setbacks before they create any long lasting negative consequences.  You always want to make sure that your product is moving at a steady velocity and that there is always healthy demand for your offering.

3.       Outsource compliance: Hire a professional company to advise you and file the myriad of forms, documents, and licenses.

Don’t try to do all of this yourself – it is just too complicated.  Every state has their own laws, regulations and business practices.  In some states, you won’t be able to advertise or sell your alcoholic beverage in the same way you have been in previous markets. For instance, in some states you might not be able to offer a retailer any free product when you are dealing with large orders. However, you might be able to offer them the same large order at a price that corresponds to a smaller order.  You have to know all of the nuances of how business is done in each and every territory, so get a pro on your side.  It pays to hire a consultant, it doesn’t cost, because one non-compliance fine can easily be the equivalent of what you pay your consultant over the course of a year.

4.       Hire a brand building consultant with knowledge of the U.S. distribution, compliance, and retail requirements.

Again – Get a Professional!  Hire yourself a proven brand consultant who understands all of the challenges that a wine brand is going to face entering the US market.  A brand building consultant will know who the best distributors are, the relationships that they have with retailers and any compliance issues you might come up against.  These guys will guide you around all of the pot holes and get you moving quickly down the road to national distribution.  They understand who to do business with and who to stay away from and will pay for themselves in very little time.

5.       Get distributors who have an interest in seeing your product get to the shelf and stay there.

If you go with a large distributor that tempts you by saying that they are a multi-state distributor, be sure they are willing to put in the work and get your product on their partners’ shelves.  Often, brand owners find out to late that their distribution partners haven’t lifted a finger towards putting their products on shelves across their network.

When you are starting a brand try to identify little guys who are motivated to be successful and are ready to give every item in their book the attention that it needs.  Smaller distributors need to build their market presence and shelf space, so they are generally more dedicated to keeping your brand on the shelf.  However, you have to be careful with small distributors because they may not have the financial wherewithal to pay their bills on time.  Bigger distributor might not keep you on the shelf, but they are going to stay current with their accounts.

Generally, you can always start with a smaller distributor and build your brand before moving on to a larger distributor, but the opposite isn’t always true.

6.       Be wary of brokers who say “I’ll take care of the merchandising.” If you choose to use brokers make sure they are hands on.

You always have to worry about what is going on in the market. If you do go forward with a broker make sure they are ready to put their feet to the ground and not just playing golf with the buyer.  Find out what other brands your broker represents and how each is performing in your new territory.  Call brand reps and get information from the horse’s mouth. Go into the retail stores and take a look at what shelf space those brands occupy and if there is evidence of strong merchandising.  In other words, do your research!  The reputation of your broker will reflect on your brand, so take this decision seriously.

Often, you are much better off hiring a representative over a broker, but there are many very successful and conscientious brokers who will work hard to build your brand for you.

7.       Have a representative in every territory.

This is the hardest pill for people to swallow: Distributors are not going to do any merchandising with a new brand.

In fact, the distributor is not going to build your brand at all and your representative has to be ready to do all of the heavy lifting. They will have to make all of the sales calls, presentations, follow ups, visits, and stock checks. Make sure you hire hard working representatives that believe in your brand.

Ultimately, you will be able to trust your distributor, but only after you prove to them that your product is moving at a steady velocity.  They need to see blood from the beast before they are going to out there and fight for you.

8.       Choose a label, logo, and catch phrase that is easy to recognize, pronounce, and remember. Don’t get cute!

When consumers go into a wine store or wine section of a chain store in the USA and are looking at all of the different labels on offer, it is easy for them to get overwhelmed.  Most people don’t know how to buy a wine or even what they want.  The best way to keep your brand top-of-mind is to keep it simple.  Stand out by making sure that your label can be seen and read from 4 feet away.

9.       Don’t enter the market with too many SKUs. Keep it down to 2 or 3 until you are established.

A lot of brand owners go into the market with a range of products, but this can actually dilute your chance at brand awareness.  It is hard enough to get any shelf space, so try and keep your range to one or two SKUs because it will be easier for you to argue for two or three faces showing.  If you go in with multiple varietals, you are going to have your brand name on multiple shelves, but you won’t have any ‘brand width’.  The question is, “Is it easier for people to remember your brand if you are known for one or two varietals, or is it easier for people to remember your brand if you are known for five?”

When you get started your ‘brand-width’ is extremely narrow.  Your distributor rep’s mind share, your retailer’s mind share, the clerks mind share, and the consumers mind share is very small – they just don’t know about your brand yet, so don’t confuse them with a wide range of products.

10.   Stand for more than your product. Support groups and their causes that are in the vicinity of the retail stores where you are for sale.

When you take part in your community you are gaining the attention of a much larger group of people who have already given their support to an organization which is a community fundraiser of a non-profit that they believe in.   If you show as a supporter then the members of the organization are going to take note because you have become an integral part of what it is they believe in and can touch them one-on-one.

Fundraisers rarely have the ability or opportunity to get their message out across the market, so offer your brand as an ambassador and support them through your channels as well.  Put shelf talkers or bottle neck hangers in local accounts that advertise the upcoming event and in return ask the event to help support you through podium mentions, referrals and logo placements on emails, websites and invitations.

Supporting groups, fundraisers and non-profits in local markets give your buyers a social reason, not just a mercantile reason, to buy your product.  You will gain much more credibility and your retail and distribution partners will quickly become your advocates in the wine industry as well.

Australia Trade Tasting Conference Interview Bonnie Harvey and Michael Houlihan, founders of the world’s top selling wine brand Barefoot Wines on how producers can take their wine national in the USA.

Looking to learn more on beer, spirits or wine sales and distribution? Get involved with Australia Trade Tasting educational conference on 1st and 2nd September in Melbourne.

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Top 10 ways to Increase Sales Velocity at your local Bottle Shops

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David Lipman interviews the best craft beer bottleshops in Australia to find out the basics on what craft beer brands need to do, to drive sales in bottleshops that specialize in craft beer. For brands targetting bottleshops in general please take not, craft beer only represents around 4% of total beer volume, whereas craft beer represents more than 60% of total alcohol sales in these shops, making this Top 10 craft beer specific, and hopefully helps sell craft beer brands into non-craft beer specialist bottleshops.

Interviewed managers and bottleshops – Mark Mead, Warners at the Bay, Warners Bay (NSW), Adam Bellamy, Platinum Liquor Concord and Bellevue Hill (NSW), Geoff Huens, Beer Cartel / Porter’s Artarmon (NSW), Chris Menichelli, Slowbeer, Richmond (Vic), Josh Daley, Mane Liquor, Belmont (WA), Anthony Young, Plonk Beer & Cider Store, Fyshwick Markets (ACT).

1. Brand / Retailer Relationship
The most important point for craft brewers to not only increase sales, but the velocity of those sales in bottleshops, is to do the good old fashioned things well, of having good sales staff, that love their job, love the brand and love craft beer, and having a good consistent product with an exciting and believable brand story, packaging, philosophy at competitive prices.

Yes, bottleshops want the complete story! Mark Mead sums it up, that brands need to prove to bottleshops, they are in the craft beer wholesale business for all the right reasons, being “100% behind the brand, quality, consistency and at the right price”. That way the bottleshop staff become your extended sales team, via recommendations and events, as they get infected by the brands enthusiasm and consistent quality.

Adam Bellamy says “yes I have my favourites, any brewer or rep I get along with personally, you really want them to succeed”. Josh Daley also says of brands he likes “we love to recommend them, we want to support them”. Mark Mead says its “hard to pick favourites and grow a brand when he has such a huge range, so many brands per style”.

Geoff Huens says “hire staff that know a bit about beer – not only will it gain better traction with retailers but they can also actually talk about your beer and brand at events/festivals”. Josh Daley says “if staff meet the reps, it helps a lot. We get deliveries every fortnight, which is usually a rep to keep freight down. We go out on the weekend with a lot of the reps, which helps”. Anthony Young gives his expectations of regular sales calls by sales reps “we don’t need more than once a month, either face to face or by email with phone follow up”.

Adam Bellamy says one way to damage the relationship is for brand reps to convey more attention to the on-premise rather than bottleshops, stating “brands need to show bottleshops similar respect and attention as they do for pubs and the on-premise. Bellamy continues “even breweries I like dealing with, I don’t get a deal, but the sales rep says he has to do deals with pubs to get their beers on tap – so it’s like the bottleshops are subsidising pubs”. Bellamy is not saying he wants a deal, or free merchandise, advertising dollars, rebates, fridges and so on, he just wants to have a good working relationship with the brewery, such that he receives the beer when he asks for it, the quantity he ordered, in good condition, and it’s a brand he likes and wants to support. It’s clear why the brands gives so much attention to the on-premise because excise is 40% less in 50L kegs, the packaging is more cost effective, and overall its more profitable than bottled beer.

Bellamy says a “brewery in the business of cut and thrust who is all about sales”, then Adam will cut them if not selling. Whereas “if a brand is not so pushy, and want to grow together” then they get more understanding from Adam, and if not selling so well, “that’s not a sole reason to cut them from the shelf”. Bellamy continues “I don’t like to do business like the on-premise and take what you get, I keep full control of what I sell, if I like them and I like their beers I’ll put it on”.

Geoff Huens says “have an awesome (real) story behind the brand and each beer. e.g. Death Between The Tanks is a result of Kylie (The Little Brewing Co., NSW) telling Warwick (Kylie’s Head Brewer husband) she will likely end up finding him dead between the tanks if he continues to work so hard! That’s an awesome story to tell customers plus an awesome name”. Huens summarises, “do things differently and a bit quirky – don’t be same old same old”.

If you are a retailer, Australia Trade Tasting would love to invite you at the Melbourne and Sydney Tastings to check out new and exciting craft beers, craft spirits and boutique wines that are looking to grow distribution.

Eventbrite - 2015 Australia Trade Tasting Visitor Portal

2. Quality / Consistent Product
Geoff Huens says “strive for quality and consistency of product. We want to be able to stand behind our recommendations and feel confident customers will have a good experience. If not then it reflects poorly on the brewery and us, and will likely drive customers back to tried and tested brands they know. This happened in the states about seven years ago. We have culled beers from our range due to lack of consistency / quality”. Huens wonders if the current brewing qualifications allocate enough time in experience brewing on a commercial scale, so brewers are not entering the industry without years of experience brewing on a commercial scale. Huens suggests brands to “enter your beers into competitions to try and win awards. Then if you win tell people about it! If you don’t win ask the judges what the problems were and try again”.

Mark Mead says “first and foremost have a good, consistent beer”. “What makes a good beer?”, says Mead, and discusses consumers or writers bagging beers, on rating sites, when it’s subjective, and they don’t have qualified palettes. Mead says “Stone & Wood is far from outstanding, but it can’t keep up with demand”.

Adam Bellamy says “plenty of breweries make sub-standard beer, promotions like buy 10 get 2, all helps, but it’s when they don’t have good products, it’s not a good look. It’s all about beer being good, consistently good”.

3. Price & Promotion
Brands when starting up will work out what size brewery to purchase, or how many litres to contract brew and sell each year to be profitable. However being profitable on paper doesn’t make the beers price competitive and sell. Bottleshops want brands to do their research on targetting segments in the market, and positioning their beers in categories that they will be price competitive. Most bottleshops see craft beer, from small to medium craft breweries, not being price competitive, with unrealistic wholesale prices.

When deciding on a beer style, do your research on what retail price other brands are sold at for the same style and similar ABV, for local and imported beers. Bellamy says “position your brand with competition in mind”. When he looks at the depth of beers of the same style on his store shelves, “why sell an Aussie craft beer 6-pack for the same price as an awesome USA imported craft beer 6-pack”? It cannibalises both. Then the beer sits on the shelf longer, getting closer to its best before date, and Huens says “we don’t stock any beers that are within three months of their best before date”. The softening of the Australian dollar to the US dollar will help local Aussie craft beers be more price competitive.

Mark Mead says they “haven’t done specials for five years, focusing on all day everyday low prices”, although Warners has been in the market for 10 years now. Mead says of how to drive craft beer sales there’s “no magic wand short of cutting prices”. Mead shares their GP margins to help brands work out what their wholesale prices need to be, 40% single 330mL and 32-34% up to 1.5L bottle, 28-30% 4 / 6-packs, 15% cartons. Chris Menichelli says retail price points need to be $20-$25 per 6-pack for easy drinking craft beer, $20-$25 per 4-pack for big ABV or big flavour intensity craft beers, and $8-$10 a single 330mL bottle for seasonal and limited release big flavour craft beers. Menichelli doesn’t do a lot of bulk, no case sales really, just 4/6-packs and singles, and doesn’t run many promotions, it’s not relevant in his store. Josh Daley says they aim to sell craft less than $20 a 6-packs and $15 for 4-packs as at those prices they “fly off the shelf”. Daley says at Mane Liquor “customers buy one or two 6-packs then fill the box with singles ranging from $5-$15 a bottle”. Geoff Huens requests from brands “volume pricing that then works into a promotional offer, e.g. 2 for $12 on pint bottles or similar”. Anthony Young says “periodic promotional buy deals i.e. buy 10 get 1 n/c.  This increases the chance for a floor stack and additional shelf allocation”. Mark Mead says “bonus deals like 10 plus 1 are not the ‘be all and end all’, once you factor freight and the free case into the per carton price”. Geoff Huens encourages “intro discounts for retailers to get the beers on shelf and offers a lower initial price point to drive initial trial”.

My recommendation to craft brewers already brewing their own beer is, for beer you want to sell wholesale in bottle, to brew one or two of your best sellers with contract brewers, so as to dramatically reduce your cost per carton in brewing (my research says brewing the beer on your own is about $40-$50 per carton, ex-works, ex-excise, when contract brewing can be 50% less), reduces your wholesale price (leaving some profit for the brand for promotion or for cash flow), and ultimately leads to more sales. I am recommending this, without any association with a contract brewer, nor am I working with/for a contract brewer, it just makes sense to me. This way the craft brewer can still brew their other SKUs and limited releases on their own equipment, create some PR and excitement from selling them at your cellar door, or draught in the on-premise, and then once volumes get large enough, upgrade to larger brewing length equipment and tanks. As soon as you put beer in the bottle, it’s a whole new business model, it’s all about brewing big volumes to cost less down the line to the consumer.

CraftBeer Selection4. Packaging
Craft beer drinkers are repertoire drinkers and buy when they are browsing the aisles, and if they don’t see anything of interest they will stick with what they already know. If a brands label doesn’t make sense, excludes the important information, or isn’t using all sides of the cluster pack effectively, these all have an impact on sales. Even having the SKUs available in different size bottles or cans helps retailers sell craft beer. Bottleshops collectively want brands to take their time in getting the packaging right, so amongst its competitive set, it’s exciting and is consistent with the brand positioning.

Geoff Huens says “think long and hard about bottle labels and branding so that it stands out on the shelf amongst a sea of beers. Huens likes Doctors Orders and Rogue Ales as two examples of good packaging, “hire a designer that has industry experience of what labels will look like when placed on a bottle. Mentioning of awards on packaging, bottles or POS, having beer bottles clearly labelled with the style – so many beer bottles have ordinary labels that customers struggle to decipher what it is. Recent research we did this month showed that customers initially look for beers by Brewery or Style – put your plotted brewery history on the back label!

Chris Menichelli says “branding is important now more than ever due to how crowded the market is. Moon Dog is quirky, and Red Hill is classic, as two examples of packaging that works well”. Anthony Young says “Packaging that results in the product displaying really well on shelf, be it single unit, 4 or 6-pack on all four sides as you don’t know which way the retailer will face the product”. Young requests “4 or 6-packs that don’t collapse, particularly once they come out of refrigeration”. Geoff Huens also says “4-pack / 6-pack holders that just have what the brand and beer style is on the side are useless in fridges. You’ll sell a lot more beer if they can go in the fridge”. Huens also adds “have barcodes on the beers”.

A lot of brewers overlook it’s not ideal packaging bottles loose in a box of 24, Chris Menichelli says “as it basically discourages the consumer buying a 4-pack or 6-pack, people are guided by what they see, if it’s a single bottle, or 6-pack that’s how they buy it, from an impulse perspective”.

Adam Bellamy says “long necks sell really well for us”, selling 500mL and 640mL bottles in 3 x bottle quantities, showing merit for brands to offer bottleshops SKUs in stubby and long neck sizes. Huens says “release seasonal / one off beers in different format bottles to make them a bit more special and releasing beers in 30L kegs to allow for offering the product on growlers / squealers”.

Mark Mead says of brands deciding on can vs bottle, “I would love to see everything in can, much better for the beer”, and for those thinking it’s not a good look drinking out of a can, “all good beer should be poured into a proper glass” says Mead.

5. Social Media and Marketing
Social Media is a very popular marketing medium for craft beer brands that bottleshops say really works to drive brand awareness and craft beer sales in-store.

Mark Mead says they rely on brands to promote their beer(s), and “social media is very important, as most of their craft beer nerds are getting a lot of info online”. Josh Daley says “social media around events is massive, the brewery pumps it up, the staff pump it up, social media is the number one thing to get the brand out there”. Daley mentions a recent promotion from Colonial Brewing with their new cans, saying they were smashing Instagram and Facebook about the canning”, they really felt it in-store. Daley says though it helped a lot that Colonial had a Cellar Door, saying “you don’t hear much about brands without a cellar door. But the cellar door needs the fit out, spend the money”. Daley also sites Eagle Bay Brewing’s cellar door as a place people get introduced to their beers and then ask for their beers at Mane Liquor.

Anthony Young says of a brands web page, “have a link that states where your beers can be found (on and off-premise) and where possible have the web page links for those outlets”. Geoff Huens also says it’s important to promote stockists “listing us as a stockist on their website – and keep it updated”.

Geoff Huens says “be active in social media / general media about what you are doing and what is coming up, such as mention stockists when releasing new beers. The more general awareness there is of the brand the more likely consumers will be to ask for the beer by name”.

Anthony Young says “promote where the beer can be found when marketing on social media and have links back to your web page that allows the customers to see where they can access your product.

Print Catalogue advertising wasn’t mentioned by many bottleshops, probably due to the high resource, cash and time intensive process, or not being able to source funds from brands, however they do work and are effective for brands to drive sales. Anthony Young says “assistance in providing funds for retailers catalogues (is important)”. Look at Dan Murphy’s who do a lot of catalogue advertising, and require brands to contribute a significant amount of money, given the large print and production costs. For some brands this is not worthwhile, even though a healthy order may come with the request. Perhaps this is more an option for brands that get to a certain sales volume, so the cost is spread over more cartons. Print advertising in general is great for brand awareness and bottleshops, such as Mark Mead, have read magazines such as Beer & Brewer magazine to see new brands or releases to place an order.

Mark Mead points out how subjective beer is, and with all the online ratings sites, blogs and Apps, it’s important for Brands to watch what people are saying about their beers. Consumers may be looking for guidance from online material and not everyone writing the material has an educated pallet. At the same time, brands should make sure all of your SKUs are listed on the rating web sites and Beer Social and Rating Apps, such as Untappd (with over 950,000 users), Rate Beer, Beer Advocate, Beer Guide, and so on. Distributors use these ratings to sell craft beer to retailers, retailers use the ratings as a selling tool to consumers and consumers use these sites to see what their mates are drinking, or what beer is the most highly rated in making buying decisions.
6.      6. In-store Tastings & Events
Most bottleshops encourage brands to conduct in-store tastings, where the brand provides a knowledgeable staff member and stock for the tasting, or credits whatever stock is used for the tasting. Tastings embrace the try before you buy nature of being introduced to something new.

Mark Mead says “tastings are the best way to drive sales for craft beer, however there is no point using agencies, it doesn’t work. People want to meet the people behind the brand. If craft beer brands demand a premium price, they need their own staff”, this leads to more sales. Mead continues a “small percentage don’t care who is doing the tasting, they get a free taste, buy a 6-pack”. Mead says of Warners “it’s frustrating seeing brand staff doing tastings in metro areas, but it’s very rare to get reps to our regional store”.

Adam Bellamy says he’s not a fan, “it’s a short term gain in sales, but long term pain”, they “sell a lot on a tasting night, then order more and it sits there. Tastings can awaken some people and help sell in the short term, or disguise a not good seller in medium term”. Bellamy concludes he’s “yet to see brands do tastings consistently” and for a store of their size, “staff recommendations are better than in-store tastings”. Josh Daley says they don’t do “a huge amount of tastings, one every 2-3 weeks, get a rep and free tastings, Friday arvo, that helps, you always get sales”.

Bottleshops say events are a great way for the brands to promote their stockists, on and off-premise, particularly the bottleshops closest to the event, be that a dinner, or beer festival. Geoff Huens says events are important to brands as they “drive awareness and trial of your brand – either through in-store tastings or festivals or giveaways. It takes a minimum of 12 months of continuous pushing and trialing of your brand for traction to be gained”. Josh Daley says “we get a fair few sales after breweries hold events, when we are one of the closest shops to the event. We’re lucky we have a good relationship with the brands. It’s good to see brands at festivals, not just beer related, to introduce craft beer to the masses”. Adam Bellamy says he “hears brewers or importers at festivals, proclaiming their independence, but their beers are not available in independent bottleshops” – so they should be promoting stockists at events, particularly the independents.

Daley provides some great examples that have helped drive sales from events at Mane Liquor, saying in-store tastings, events and social media are an all-in-one must have for brands. “Brands gave a $300 budget on food, for a free Chili Dog with every 4-pack promotion with an in-store tasting as well”. The brand also provided the tasting stock and Mane Liquor paid for the staff. Of the events success Daley proclaims “then still two weeks later we were getting repeat orders for the same SKU [in the promotion], then they would buy more SKUs in the brand”, showing loyalty to the brand, all thanks to the initial event.

Daley says putting on events around new releases of products works well for them, such as “free toasties with every beer”, which resulted in sales of 40 cartons in one night. Daley says another event idea that works for new releases, is they use their carpark, getting Food Trucks in, and run a deal of “buy a 6-pack and get whatever food truck item free”. These events are usually Friday afternoons as the best time. If on a Saturday, Daley makes the event bigger, “as customers have more time to come down, hosting 2-3 food trucks, 2-3 breweries, being a mini car park beer festival”.

7. Staff Recommendations
Bottleshops all concurred that if they receive samples from brands, it helps staff understand the beer and it directly leads to more sales. However it seemed more important for new brands to send samples of their launch beers. Once a brand gains loyalty and momentum, the bottleshops don’t need to taste the beer to like it and sell it, the staff and consumers are already sold on the brand.

Geoff Huens says of his staff “they are more likely to recommend it if they have tried it and liked it”. Josh Daley says “if staff haven’t tried a beer, it doesn’t sell anywhere near as well to those they have”. While Chris Menichelli says while “this is the biggest for us”, it’s not essential to send samples all the time, “I look up rate beer and beer advocate for imports, when ordering stock”. Menichelli says “new brewery samples are important”, whereas for existing brands with new beers, “the brewer comes in and explains the range”.

Mark Mead says over Christmas “about 75-80% of craft beer sales are from staff recommendations, with so many being 6-packs. Whereas this is more like 50-60% throughout the year”. Mead says for commercial beer, and some craft beer brands, where customers are brand loyal, there are no staff recommendations needed. Mead says “I stock some beers I don’t like, but they sell, they have their place in our shop, let the customers decide”.

Anthony Young encourages brands to “take samples out to retailers in a cold esky and even take small glass tasting cups in with you. Have the staff sample the product with you so all the staff employed in the bottle shop are your best-selling tool to the customers”.

8. Brand Mix of Styles
Craft brewers love showing their creative flair with “propeller-head” type craft beers, full of flavour, IBU, high alcohol, and words such as barrel-aged, sour, farmhouse, double and imperial. However the bottleshops say these beers aren’t for everyone, and in fact don’t sell enough volume for either the bottleshop or for the brand to generate enough volume to be sustainable.

There are still 95% of consumers drinking commercial lagers and ales and wondering what is craft beer or not aware of this whole new world of beer. Bridging Beers or Session Beers are a great way for bottleshops to introduce these customers to the category, which helps increase brand sales. These Session Beers may be the ones that pay the bills for a brand, while having seasonals and limited releases, says Geoff Huens “helps people who like to try everything and come back to your brand every now and then. Otherwise they just see the same beers they may have tried two years ago and don’t ever think to come back. It helps keep your brand top of mind”.

Geoff Huens says “have an everyday beer in your range. It’s OK to make hop bombs but not all customers want that all of the time. Plus hop bombs don’t cater for newbies to the category”. Chris Menichelli agrees when you look at “Mountain Goat’s Summer Ale, it is a great session beer aimed at the mass market, it also allowed them to do more NPD”. “But don’t go all session, then you’re not interesting, all subtle, all same slightly / different”.

Geoff Huens says “customers are brewery loyal”, as does Josh Daley that consumers will drink a brands portfolio, “because they know their other products are good”. Huens continues “customers also buy styles, and Pale Ales and IPAs are the most asked for styles”. If a brand doesn’t have a Pale Ale or IPA, they are simply missing out on sales.

9. Merchandising
Brands investing in the time to source merchandise, get it designed and branded, find a supplier, or produce posters, gift packs or shelf talkers, it’s a costly process. Does it work for craft beer bottleshops? Does it drive sales?

Mark Mead says “we’ve been wearing Little Creatures t-shirts for five years, but I’m not sure it’s helping sales”. On the other hand, Mead says if brands can give interesting merchandise away to consumers, such as caps, stubby holders, bottle openers, t-shirts, posters “then it starts a conversation outside the shop, you’ve got to give them something to take away”. Then the brand is gaining exposure for example at a house party, “then everyone is talking about you”, affirms Mead. Both Geoff Huens and Josh Daley say posters help merchandise their stores.

Chris Menichelli says they “don’t do much merchandise, it’s not really relevant”. In regards to gift packs, Menichelli says “they don’t pre-pack gift packs, a customer will come in wanting a mixed 6-pack and we will help the customer choose, put in a nice box, wrapped. If we had merchandise free from local breweries we could bundle it”. Adam Bellamy says beer gift packs can work over Father’s Day and Christmas.

Anthony Young asks brands to “provide shelf talkers for your products that suit the retailer’s method of shelf tickets / promotional ticketing”.

Josh Daley doesn’t do a great deal of merchandise, “glassware helps, but people aren’t that fussed getting something for free, it doesn’t increase sales that much”. Adam Bellamy, says merchandise isn’t their style, he likes to focus on just selling beer, stating “merchandise may be seen as something to make beer easier to sell to compensate the beer not being able to sell itself”.

10. Innovation
Mark Mead highlights Growlers can work in any store “at the right price, all walks of life love Growlers, but staff have got to be passionate about it, and understand the beer should be on tap for two weeks maximum, not three months. Saisons and Ginger Beers don’t work, anything with Pale Ale or IPA in it sells”. Mead asks customers what they like, but anytime he ventures out of Pale Ale or IPA, it doesn’t sell through. If the beer is not sold in two weeks, Mead says “we take it off, pour for staff and dump the rest”.

Chris Menichelli says “filling one litre cans, rather than growlers, is interesting” as he has learned of Modus Operandi in Mona Vale (NSW). Josh Daley says of these cans “they look awesome, but once you drink them you have to throw them out, whereas growlers you can re-use”. Josh Daley says of their Growler station, “we prefer beers that aren’t available in the bottle or can”. Daley welcomes a promotion deal with brands along the lines of “buy two kegs get one free for tasting and to factor savings into reducing the Growler price”.

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Angela Slade To Kick Off US Export Day at Australia Trade Tasting Conference

Angela SladeAustralia Trade Tasting is pleased to announce Angela Slade,  Regional Director, North America, Wine Australia as AuTT keynote speaker on 2nd September, 2015.

Wine Australia North America provides a collaborative framework for the Australian wine category to secure maximum trade, press and consumer visibility. A team of industry professionals in US & Canada are dedicated to building confidence and increasing demand for Australian wines through market insights, extensive trade education, trade promotional programs, public relations, and events.

Whether you are looking to launch a new product in the United States for the first time, grow your existing brand or simply learn new tricks of the trade, the US export focused session on 2nd September will give you insights into the USA market. Organized by BeverageTradeNetwork.com, the conference will include talks from Michael and Bonnie: Barefoot Wine Founders, John Beaudette: President and CEO, MHW Ltd  also Chairman of National Association of Beverage Importers (NABI) U.S and Steve Raye: Partner at Bevology Inc.

Buy your Australia Trade Tasting tickets here:

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Looking to grow your distribution in Melbourne and Sydney?

Exhibit your brand and meet distributors, retailers and press of Melbourne and Sydney. Registrations end July 30. Get Involved and grow. (B2B Only Event). If you are interested to become an exhibitor or enter your brand in ‘The Pavilion’ area, call Sid Patel on 0450 856 094 to book or inquire (or email sid@australiatradetasting.com). If you are ready, please BOOK NOW as registrations will end soon.

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USA Export Conference Keynote Speakers To Talk On ‘Sales’

Founders of Barefoot Wine Brand (World’s No 1 Wine Brand By Sales) will take on the stage and talk about ‘Seven level of sales tiers you need to work on to grow your brand‘.

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Book your seats now and learn:

Level #1- Sell Your Staff
Level #2- Sell Distributors’ Owner
Level #3- Sell Distributors’ Sales Manager
Level #4- Sell All Sales People
Level #5- Sell Retail Buyers
Level #6- Sell Retailer’s Clerk
Level #7- Sell Customer

Getting approval from your producer or boss to attend ‘AuTT Conference’

Are you a wine, beer, spirits or a beverage rep? and need to get approval from your boss or your producer for whom you are working? Help is here.

Remember that the cost of attending a conference is considerable. That total includes conference registration fees, travel costs (if not around Melbourne), hotel, and time-away-from-work costs. It is likely your managers will want some serious justification for you to attend a conference.

Your attendance at the AuTT Conference will help you effectively meet and overcome the biggest marketing sales, distribution and marketing challenges you are facing today!

Here are some things your boss/producer may need to know. You might want to stress real benefits like…

  • Learn how to launch, market and grow your wine, beer or spirit brand.
  • Reduce your trial and error time: Why experiment with your branding when you can fast-track your time to success? The experts at this event will empower you to focus on what really works (and prove to others it works).
  • High level networking with marketers just like you: Imagine connecting face-to-face with hundreds of people—just like you—as you share stories, gather ideas and build relationships that last for years.
  • Meet the speakers. Attendees will learn first-hand from presentations and also have the unique opportunity to directly engage with new industry contacts.
  • Get your ROI by getting great content. The right conferences not only allow you to meet smart, inspiring people, but also teach you a ton — especially in skills that make you a more well-rounded professional. AuTT Conference is all about ‘How To Do It’. We are not going to discuss where the industry is going, what are the problems – instead we are going to discuss how to make it happen and do it better.

“Timing is perfect. End of financial year is coming soon, use your money now to invest in an activity in coming months”.

Send them full conference program. Below is a sampling of what you will learn.

  • How to manage and grow your brand. By Glenn Cooper
  • How to pitch your brand to independents bottleshops. By Giuseppe Minissale
  • How to make people fall in love with your brands. By Stuart Gregor.
  • How to create a culture and how to share that with your customers. By Andre Eikmeier
  • How to grow your brand in on-premise accounts. By Jenna Hemsworth
  • How to Get Press Attention: Even With NO / Less Budget. By James Gregory Wilkinson
  • How to create effective retail merchandising programs that work in retail. By Rose Scott
  • How to build your brand as a sustainable brand. By Bill Lark
  • How To Pitch Your Brand To A Prospective Distributor. By Kathleen Davies
  • How to sell as the founders of the world’s highest selling wine brand ‘Barefoot’ take on the stage and talk on Sales Fixes Everything: Seven Level of Sales tiers. By Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey

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About AuTT and Team: 

Australia Trade Tasting is brought to you by Beverage Trade Network (US Based Company) which is one of the leading platforms educating the beverage industry globally. (Check out BTN Academy to learn more). Beverage Trade Network also works with Wine Australia USA Team helping Australian wineries grow in the US market. The conference will not focus on the ‘problems’ unlike other conferences, AuTT is all about ‘How to’ (how to sell, how to market, how to grow, how to build), so get involved now to learn from your favorite speakers and get inspired at AuTT.