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Some basics on what to do when developing a new brand in beverage alcohol

Walter Marcinowski,
CEO, Walmar International and Marketing and Advertising Specialist

It seems like every day I come across another new product developed by people who ordinarily have good sense and are pretty decent business people but who don’t know the rigors of the beverage alcohol business.

They go into it the wrong way and end up burning through a lot of capital before they realized they did it all wrong and are on their way down. By that time there is very little I can do for most of them except to find them a buyer for their tax loss carry forward and help them dispose of their excess inventory. In response I have decided to share some basics on what to do when developing a new brand in beverage alcohol.

Rule 1.
Research the market to find a niche where you are filling a void or demand in the market. It’s a lot easier to make a success in a pull market strategy than a push market with your brilliant new idea for chocolate vodka!

Rule 2.
Write a business plan with a full marketing plan detailing all promotions, advertising and spending support at all three tiers! Don’t just design a bottle and some key chains and spend all your money perfecting the flavor. The marketing budget needs to be substantial to be successful. Match the budget to your launch and growth plan! The budget should carry the entire plan from manufacturing to promotions for 18 months without income! Promotions, promotions, promotions! Forget advertising unless you have more than 5 million in your budget it’s a waste for a new brand launch.

Rule 3.
Interview prospective distributors in advance and get their input on what they think of your idea and what they would do to support your brand. Then don’t believe anything they told you. You will need to support the brand yourself! If you believe otherwise just send me the money and I will buy you a Goldman derivative. They are necessary in the three-tier system so you need to follow the rule “keep your friends close and your enemies even closer.” There are some great hard working distributors out there, but they are few and far between unless you are Diageo or Pernod. Start in your home area and do not succumb to the number one reason for failure in the business “Distributor Expansion” Because you can find distributors in 20 states it doesn’t mean you can support them.

Rule 4.
Create a brand image that is more than the stuff in the bottle. You need it to make an emotional connection to your audience and become a meaningful part of their lives in order for it to succeed. Once decided on, stick to the brand image and reinforce it!

Rule 5.
Leverage word of mouth, Public Relations and social media to get the buzz going and control the budget!

Rule 6.
Promotions, tasting, promotions, tasting! Get the product into the hands of the audience and let them taste it! The product is its own best promotion!

Rule 7.
Its ok to get celebrities to endorse the product and evangelize it, but do not tie it to any single celebrity. I guarantee it will eventually backfire on you if you do!
Also watch out for the nightclub hustle. They get you to spend 25 to 50K on major promotional parties and then do not support your brand. There is a new sucker in them every night doing the same thing.

Rule 8.
Brand Ambassadors should be hired to support the distributor’s efforts in each market, but they must be hired by you and report to you. Don’t go for the in-house guy at the distributor. You need them to be loyal to you and your brand. You need your own eyes and ears in the marketplace to give you real time feedback.

Rule 9.
If you do not have industry experience go out and hire an old timer to be on your team with 20+ years of experience in the industry. They will save you a fortune in costly mistakes! They can pick up a phone and solve most of your problems through a friend or two.

Most countries have laws concerning the industry but the US has 51 laws all of which are unique. You need to know what to expect! Also get an accounting firm that has industry tax experience in advance!

To learn more about Walter please visit his profile on

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