A common misconception is that a brand manager’s main objective is to sell as many cases as they can to your retail shop. This isn’t true, more than anything a brand manager wants to create awareness for their brand. A good relationship with a brand manager is not only vital for the success of the brand, but of your retail shop as well. Here are two interviews that will provide critical insight into brand and retail relationships.
Lorna Rumley, Brand Manager of Glendalough Distillery
Q. How important is a good relationship with a retailer to the success of your brand?
A. A good relationship is important when trying to train retail employees on our product. When a retailer knows and likes our brand it helps the sales of our brands because they are able to talk to customers about our product. It is also beneficial when I want to build a display in the store to better showcase our brands.
Q. In what ways do you work with retailers?
A. The most important thing is staff trainings. I also offer to put up shelf talkers in case employees are not there customers can still learn about our products. At times it is easier to work with small retailers because all the business is done in store, whereas, in large retailers you have to deal with corporate buyers then store management. The benefit, however, to working with Binny’s or large retailers is that they are spirits focused which is easier than working with a retailer where spirits aren’t their main focus.
Q. What are some difficulties when working with a retailer?
A. In small retail stores management is more uncertain about trying new brands. The main reason is due to their smaller budget that they choose to focus on big companies. Their staff is also not as knowledgeable or as interested because a lot of them are more business oriented versus spirits oriented. In large retail stores it is hard to get in touch with buyers. There is also a lot more brands in a larger retailer so our brand is easier to get lost in the mix.
Q. How does working off-premise differ from on-premise?
A. Off-premise is more focused on the story of the product and the pure spirit. You usually work with multi case sales. On-premise is more focused on drinks that can be made with the spirit. You deal with both management and bartenders. The relationship is also more social. You deal with more bottle-to-bottle sales depending on drink menu.
Q. What would you like to see more of from retailers?
A. I would like retailers to be more open-minded and give smaller craft spirits more chances. They could be more helpful in setting up displays in-store to better showcase the products.
Charlie Davis, owner of Right Bee Cider. The only cider producer in the city of Chicago.
Q. What are some difficulties introducing a new brand into retail?
A. The most challenging part is time. When a brand is starting up all your time is spent working on the product. Meetings are hard to make time for.
Q. What are buyers looking for?
A. They are looking for more local products. In the past brand loyalty was more important but with customers being more experimental craft is becoming more in demand.
Q. Difference between small and large retailers?
A. In bigger stores relationships are more customer based because we can set up in store tastings. In smaller stores the relationships are more with the shop owners.
Q. What makes retailers easy to work with?
A. Having a good line of communication which includes returning emails. Retailers that take time to meet with you face to face is important because it affords us more time to make an impression.
As Charlie said, customers are becoming more experimental, so a retailer shouldn’t shy away from testing new or different products. Instead, brands want retailers to be more open in working with them to help grow awareness of what's new and what's exciting. Just by keeping an open line of communication and being willing to change things up. Having a brand manager, like Lorna, come into a retail store to conduct a tasting or staff training, immediately improves the success of a brand and reverberates in year round sales. A strong relationship with brand managers will improve a retail shop look and feel, improve retail employee empowerment, and ultimately benefit the customer experience.