So you’ve created a spirit and are ready to take on the UK market. What now?
The UK is the holy grail of spirits markets. Lots of brands from the UK and around the world target it, so it’s very competitive! Your spirits brand can only be successful in it if you’ve taken a structured approach to your launch there.
What does a structured approach to launching spirits look like?
First, you’ve nailed your marketing. And by that we mean your positioning, your segmentation and your targeting. It’s about more than how you’re currently promoting or planning to promote it. It goes back to the basics of why your brand exists and who it’s for. Secondly, you carry that throw to your distribution channels and are strategic about them.
Step 1: review your brand’s 4Cs for the UK market…
…or previously known as the 4Ps. The 4Cs stand for:
- Customer wants and needs: who’s your target customer in the UK and why? What need are you trying to meet? How does that fit with changing priorities and tastes in the market? If you’re not the only brand out there trying to meet this need, how differently are you trying to meet it? What segment/niche are you focusing on? Why do you think it’s underserved? It’s important that you back it up with research: your distributors and your buyers will want to see the rationale. It’s also important because it directly feeds into…
- Communication: how strong is your spirits brand story based on the above? How effectively does you branding tell that story and is it line with it? A strong brand story will set you apart from the crowd! What channels do you use to tell it? Is that how your target segment wants to communicate with the brand and how it wants to hear about and from your brand? How strategic and integrated are your brand communications and how do you measure their success? What offline and online sales support assets exist? That’s a lot of questions, but they’re what your spirits distributors and spirits buyers will want to know. They want to see evidence of a strategic approach to help make their decision.
- Cost to satisfy: it used to be price, but it takes much more than that to satisfy your customer nowadays. Think about your target customer: how do you want them to see your product? That has a big impact on what the cost to satisfy them is. Then think about your buyers: they’ve got their own financial targets to hit. Depending on where your brand is at, the cost to satisfy them will include discounts, retros, POS, buy and gets, added value… It’s not all about the price tag!
- Convenience: or in other words, how easy is it for your customers to buy your spirit? Can they buy it the way they want to buy? The fewer hoops for them, the better! For your end customers, think free delivery for example if you sell on Amazon…but how does that impact your pricing strategy? For your buyers, think accessibility by trusted retailers, wholesalers etc.
A great spirits distributor will give you clear feedback on this when you speak to them. Think you’re not quite there yet? It’s okay to make some changes to your brand so you can set it up for success. Once you’re happy (and they’re happy too) that your spirit has ticked all these boxes, it’s ready to take on the UK market! The big question is ‘how?’.
Step 2: review your sales strategy
The way spirits distribution works in the UK is specific. That means you need to approach it strategically to make it work for your spirits brand and achieve listings.
- Identify your target buyers: who’s the best fit to drive listings and volume? Be systematic in driving the brand to the next tier within each segment of the market. For example, what will it take to progress from an independent retailer to a group retailer or from an independent bar to a Bar group?
- Know your target buyers: they’ve got their own objectives, often linked to the objectives of the venue or retailer they work for. It’s really important that you’re in tune with that, so create buyer personas for them. It’ll really help pitch the brand to each of them on a level that speaks to them!
- Who do they buy from: create focus maps that show which wholesalers your target buyers buy from. That’ll be more efficient in driving interest in your brand. Let’s say you’ve got interest from 10 buyers and all of them go through the same wholesaler. That’s one big opportunity to engage and open up that route-to-market. What if they all use a different wholesaler? Well, your brand won’t be valuable enough to any individual wholesaler to justify a listing of your brand.
A great spirits distributor will help you focus your efforts on the target buyers and wholesalers that will achieve results for your brand.
Step 3: map out your marketing strategy
What do you need to do to achieve listings and drive volume at each level over 3 to 5 years? That’s your starting point for the strategy. Your marketing objectives come next. For example, a marketing objective can be around brand awareness and loyalty. They’re big tick marks for buyers. Channels and tactics will come after. For example, what channels will help you achieve brand awareness and loyalty in a way that’s right for your brand and that resonates with your target customers?
This all goes back to the second C, communications. And it will help you identify what type of marketing budget you need to achieve your objectives. That also includes marketing spend for discounts, retros, point of sale, etc.
Step 4: get forecasting and reviewing
Derive a volume projection based on the target customers and your marketing strategy. That’s the best estimate of your brand’s growth through the phases detailed. You can and will update this regularly depending on what you’ve achieved. That’ll also include always reviewing your performance, marketing strategy, sales strategy, marketing spend and even your brand positioning.
Sounds like your brand? You’re ready to start distributing your spirits in the UK and take the market by storm!