Box Movers…Nothing More, Probably Less
They asked wholesalers for recommendations as to what craft distillers can do to better succeed in markets where they have wholesalers. Here are the top 4 recommendations from the survey of wholesalers:
- Provide better branding for their propositions.
- Visit the market more frequently.
- Provide better training of salesforce.
- There should be more investments behind consumer pull strategies and consumer tastings.
I can translate these recommendations into a simple perspective: Do all the marketing and sales work yourself, we wholesalers just stack boxes!
This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has worked with wholesalers over the past 10 years, particularly those small to medium-sized producers of wine, beer or spirits.
At the Wine and Spirit Wholesalers Association website, they describe the job of the wine and spirit wholesaler this way: “They are the local marketing, logistics and distribution experts for the many thousands of brands and products.”
Sure they are…which is why, when they are surveyed anonymously, they recommend that their suppliers do all the work.
There was a day, a few decades ago when the mandate to use the middle tier made sense in the wake of Repeal of Prohibition and the relatively small number of producers. Today, however, wholesalers have become a drag on the industry that rarely offers any added value. They are rent seekers who haven’t contributed any intellectual or practical innovation in decades. The only rational argument wholesalers have today for their continued required spot between producers and retailers is the fact that they can get lawmakers elected.