Beverage creators and brand owners are navigating a world disrupted by COVID-19 while addressing consumers’ ever-changing needs in a continually evolving industry. Despite a volatile year, the beverage world continues to move forward, collaborate, innovate, and solve problems. Running a beverage business is not easy, but countless talented and generous individuals are willing to share their expertise and experience to help beverages succeed.
As the year winds down to a close, we’re taking a look back at some of the best advice beverage experts and entrepreneurs have shared with BevReview readers in 2020.
When change and uncertainty increase, it’s easy to get caught in a spiral of indecision. Dan Read, Beverage Strategy, Innovation, and Design Partner at Root & Branch Global, shared how strategically gathering the right data can give beverage brands the actionable insights they need to move forward faster, with clarity and measurable evidence.
“A well planned and executed study will shine a light on how a proposed proposition is performing against the key dimensions that determine the real-world success of new beverages hoping to break into a market.” -Dan Read, Root and Branch Global
A common theme emerged when industry leaders shared advice for persisting during uncertain times: creating connections. Relationships and collaboration came up over and over again as essential tools to build a resilient beverage brand.
For Andy Stallone, CEO of SAS Sales and Marketing, it’s about leveraging the connections he’s fostered to gather the information he needs to keep moving forward.
“I know I can call on any of the people in my network, even the ones I compete with directly, and find out what they’re seeing,” says Stallone. “We’ve built relationships and trust, and we help each other out.” -Andy Stallone, CEO, SAS Sales and Marketing
Mike Schneider, CMO of BevNET, notes that open communication is a two-way street where sharing information is just as important as listening.
“Brands and suppliers have the opportunity to talk openly about where they are and what they’re doing during this time,” says Schneider, “It’s not just the scientific and technical information people are looking for right now. We need people to state the basics because they’re shifting, and we all need to know what they are as they change so rapidly.” -Mike Schneider, CMO, BevNET
Innovation is an essential part of the beverage industry, but it doesn’t outweigh the importance of strategic, organic growth. Industry veteran, Vanessa Walker, reminded us that taking a long-term view and maintaining sustained focus on a category before creating a new one can benefit consumers and the industry.
“To keep the beverage industry a viable place for great new beverage ideas to grow, we have to stop swiping left and moving on so fast. We need to look for richer stories and trends. We must be realistic about what the journey looks like for most beverage brands and encourage strategy and patience over unreasonable risk and unrealistic speed.” -Vanessa Walker, CPG Executive
At the beginning of the pandemic, many companies realized just how vital and volatile their supply chains are. In the beverage industry, supply chain stability is critical and affected by everything from product perishability to commodity pricing and inventory quality and safety requirements. Steve McCullough, Vice President of Business Development at BevSource, shared how beverage companies can take straightforward steps to secure their supply chains, preparing them for whatever lies ahead.
“An optimized and resilient supply chain can serve as a source of stability during a crisis, becoming a source of competitive advantage that will strengthen your beverage business in the long run.” -Steve McCullough, Vice President of Business Development, BevSource
COVID-19 has increased online beverage sales faster than anyone predicted. Before the pandemic, early-stage beverage companies might have built out other channels first, expecting to add an e-commerce strategy later. Delaying online is no longer an option, but as Florent Hacq, Founder of Acwire, shared, getting online doesn’t have to be complicated, especially when you focus on your customer.
“At the end of the day, you want to offer customers different options,” says Hacq. “They may buy directly from your website if you offer specific incentives, or they might want to add your product to their shopping cart when they’re buying other groceries from an e-commerce platform. The idea is to be where the customer is.” -Florent Hacq, Founder, Acwire
This year brought new challenges to life and business. Janet Johanson, CEO of BevSource, reminded us, it’s not adversity that defines us, but rather how we respond to it. We may not have control over the circumstances, but we can adjust our perspective and approach to stay resilient and proactive even during the most difficult times.
“By choosing the best of the options in front of you and keeping things in perspective, you can turn your short-term losses into gains that will help you build a stronger and more sustainable beverage business.” -Janet Johanson, CEO, BevSource
While 2020 may not have played out how we predicted, this year brought opportunities to learn and come together in new ways. We are thankful for the opportunity to grow with you and look forward to continuing to provide fresh insights, ideas, and inspiration to fuel your beverage journey.
The original article was published in Beverage Industry Blog.