Why Convenience Shopping Should Alter Your Approach to Sales in Distribution

​Should ​things look more normal this summer, consumer expectations could be much different than before, creating a need for breweries to plan for such changes. A few breweries that are seeing that thought process play out have started to work toward new product placement in retail through distributors.​​ But it’s the retailers that are pushing the change more, they said.

One of West Sixth‘s distributors recently put in requests for new SKUs, including one of the brewery’s sours to go on sale at more than 40 Krogers in Kentucky for the Lexington-based company.

“It’s a beer that we did not push, that we did not ask them to add to their sets,” said Creative Director Kelly Hieronymus. “It was almost like the retailer is predicting that the consumers are going to want new things in 2021.”

The brewery was already planning on some larger format packages like a 12 pack of its best-selling IPA, so the request for a sour to be added in quantity was different and it made her think.

“​We haven’t pushed it. And it’s not something that we haven’t put a lot of marketing dollars behind,” Hieronymus said. “It’s them also anticipating that consumers keep wanting new things in retail spaces.”

JT Ethier, the Business Manager for Greater Good Brewing added that he feels ​the customers ​that would normally go to ​the Worcester, Massachusetts taproom are now being reflected in the types of customers in beer sections at Wegmans.​

​”​As the lines blur​,​ customers’ expectations ​are ​they should be able to get what would otherwise be a taproom exclusive anywhere, right?” explained Brian Parda of Great North Aleworks. “They want that little treat while they’re grocery shopping.

“It’s kind of ironic, how convenience has become really, really important. I think that’s certainly part of a COVID effect. It’s also maybe a maturing of where local craft independent beer is right now.”

This may now be the time for smaller breweries to work with larger retailers and educate them better on the difference between craft producers and larger macro manufacturers.

“They almost have the mindset thinking that us smaller, younger producers have the resources of the big guys that are planning multiple years in advance with focus groups and all this kind of stuff,” Parda said. “So while we’re all sweating cans and trying to figure out how to keep our taprooms going, we’re also trying to innovate. Now chains want in on it, too.

“It is an interesting balancing act and it’s very fluid right now. I have no idea where that’s going. But it’s something I’m scratching my head on a daily basis. The chains are acting bizarre right now from the way things used to be. And those traditional wholesalers, I think are trying to figure it out, too.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *