In a beverage purchasing landscape that has transformed over the past two years, how are alcoholic beverage providers, large and small, emerging and established, faring? This was a focal point of this year Bar Convent Brooklyn (BCB), held June 14-15 at Industry City, which hosted over 3,800 attendees and 163 exhibitors over the two-day event.
Prioritizing sustainable practices, creating a more diverse, fair, and inclusive beverage industry, and understanding and investing in e-commerce were already part of the alcohol beverage conversation before the pandemic, however, these issues have accelerated in recent years. years – and brand owners and operators can no longer ignore them. BCB’s educational seminars and panels offered new insights and real-world lessons for alcohol supplier success in an ever-changing landscape.
Make the most of digital channels
Unsurprisingly, many Bar Convent Brooklyn discussions focused on the growing importance of e-commerce and how to best leverage digital tools and transactions. “The age of transition is here,” said Tim Angelillo, CEO of cocktail kit delivery company Sourced Craft Cocktails, during a seminar titled “Rethinking Channel Strategy Post-Pandemic.”
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The added value of “non-premise,” as Angelillo calls it, is the amount of consumer data brands can capture with their digital transactions. “We’re not trying to replace the bar,” he added. “We try to make the bar a better experience for the consumer because [the brands] know what she drinks when she goes to the bar. Here’s how to use data to your advantage.
But to put that data to good use, brands must first understand how to capture that data. Digitizing bar and restaurant menus, for example, makes it possible to analyze not only the types of cocktails offered by a given establishment, but also who owns and distributes the spirits on the menu; this can tell an emerging brand if they are likely to be successful in securing placement in that bar.
During a seminar entitled “Unleashing the value of virtual”, Andrew Levy, senior vice president of strategic partnerships at B2B ecommerce marketplace Provided (the parent company of SevenFifty Daily), noted that the proliferation of digital alcohol markets has made advertising data more accessible. Unlike traditional advertising platforms, digital advertising offers data that can provide insight into the impact of campaigns. “With the old media campaigns, there was no measure of return on investment,” said Sara Harmelin, vice president of digital innovation at Group of allied beverages. “[Suppliers] can get accurate feedback through online marketing.
But this shift to non-premise also means brands need to fully invest in digital channels. “Walk down the digital aisle, own your product image, and make sure your branded content is available in the format you want,” Levy said.
Focus on sustainability, from start to finish
Sustainability was a priority from the start; BCB collaborated with Barr’s Hill to offset the 73,000 square foot physical footprint of the event by planting the equivalent images of new pollinator habitat. But several seminars have also been held on sustainability initiatives in the industry, with a focus on how brands can adapt to the escalating climate crisis and become proactive in bringing about much-needed change. Like Steph Jordan, the founder of the bee Spirits of Avallensaid: “It’s important that we understand as an industry that we have to be part of the solution.”
The “Sustainable Future of Beverage” seminar detailed how panelists like good vodka co-founder Mark Byrne and dairy distillery founder Omar Mcdonald has built sustainable spirits brands by reusing sugar-based waste from other industries for distillation. Byrne described the company’s seven-year journey to source and redirect sugar-rich waste from a coffee farm in Colombia to their distillery in New York. “The benefit is that each bottle eliminates such a volume of waste that it compensates for a 40-mile car journey,” he said.
“People often think that using waste has no economic value, but it does,” added Mcdonald, whose Vodkow is made with unused milk permeate from a dairy in Italy. Ontario. “We get our dairy product for free. We don’t have to pay for our sugar. This is how you can have both economic and environmental benefits.
Another general objective of the panels was to rethink packaging and transport. For example, a simple solution to reducing a brand’s carbon footprint is to bottle as close to the point of sale as possible, which may involve bulk shipping, using services such as EcoSPIRITS, which also exhibited at the BCB – then to find satellite bottling plants, to avoid shipping a heavy product consisting mainly of water. Jordan pointed out that it can also be economically advantageous in terms of taxation. Panelists on “A Farm To Glass Model—Putting Growers and Products at the Center of the Customer Experience” added to this, suggesting that restaurateurs adopt a model of sourcing from local suppliers to both drive local economy and reduce carbon emissions.
Foster diversity and put people first
With social justice now at the heart of the national conversation, how to implement an agenda that promotes human sustainability was also widely discussed. Speaking at the “Lost in Transformation—How to Create a Business Model for the Future of the Industry” conference, Andrew and Brianna Volk described their bar’s fair business model, The Portland Hunt + Alpine Club, which provides employees with insurance and welfare benefits, a for-profit training program and regular training. How do they do?
“The honest answer is that we raised our prices,” Andrew Volk said. However, as several panels remind us, transparency is paramount. In their case, they are open about their pricing, compensation structure, and policies to let customers know what the extra dollars pay. The Volks were joined by Mika Ammunet, who opened the same week bar mate in Helsinki, Finland, where he is testing a form ofconscious hospitalitycharacterized by collective leadership. “When you take away the hierarchy, the usual design is that you get anarchy,” he said, “but really you need different kinds of structures.”
In recent years, the beverage industry has strived to become more diverse, fair and inclusive, but how far have these initiatives really changed the industry as a whole? “We are at such an early stage,” said Kamuti Kiteme, managing director of inclusive investment programs at Distill the companies, during the event “Is Our Focus on Diversity in Drinks Working?” ” sign. “It’s about trying [to be more diverse and inclusive], and on this journey there will be failures and uncomfortable conversations. It’s part of the process.
Panelists argued that a lack of transparency is holding back collective industry efforts, urging companies to be open about the status of their diversity journey, even if they are not as advanced as they think they are. would like. “When people see other people making mistakes, they say, ‘Okay, I can build on this,'” said Jomaree Pinkard, CEO and co-founder of Hella Cocktail Co. “There are so few [in terms of results] we can indicate, and it is not representative of what is happening. People aren’t transparent because they’re too scared.
Tuan Lee, CEO and co-founder of the canned craft cocktail brand Vervet, recommended that companies create and publish a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) dashboard to “know where you are” in the journey; Vervet’s dashboard (which Lee hopes to release soon) tracks the diversity of its full-time employees and freelancers, as well as supplier ownership and sustainability practices.
But it’s up to the beverage industry as a whole to ensure companies are held accountable for their promises. “Companies won’t be transparent if we don’t ask for transparency,” said Lia Jones, executive director of Diversity in food and beverages, noting that many companies are willing to publicly pledge money to DEI programs, announce internal DEI initiatives, or create scholarships, but few track the results of those pledges. “As a community, we need to act [to hold the industry accountable].”