The craft distilling movement is growing in leaps and bounds across North America. While at first glance, this appears to be a good thing there is also a hidden pitfall or two in such rapid growth. Many seasoned veterans of the craft beverage movement are cautioning that they have seen this type of growth profile before in craft beer in the 1990s. These same veterans are also saying they have seen this type of growth profile before – with the Internet in the 1990s when everyone was beating their drum about their latest dotcom setup.
At Prohibition University we devote one full day of our 5-day Distillery Workshops to a thorough discussion of Marketing. I find it troubling how this Marketing session causes such pain to so many people. I have even had class participants suggest to me that they see no need to market. They will build a craft distillery and people will come to their door. I have had class participants who simply just do not take part in class exercises or take-home assignments. I can see why the industry veterans are issuing their words of caution.
If you are seriously thinking about launching a venture into the realm of craft distilling, I urge you to first sit down with a pencil and paper and write out your story. Who are you? What is driving you to get involved with craft distilled spirits? What type of spirit would you like to produce? How will it be different? Reality says that the marketplace does not need another spirit. Diageo, Smirnoff, Bacardi, Grupo Campari and the lot are quite capable of making enough alcoholic beverage to satisfy our needs and wants. If you cannot set down on paper your compelling story that crisply says who you are and why you are making a unique spirit and why it is different, then I hate to tell you – but maybe the craft distilling movement is not for you. If you are simply seeking to get involved in craft distilling because it is the latest greatest thing (just like the dotcoms were…), then please, please don’t go there.
Consumers buy on emotion and later justify that purchase with logic. Your compelling story is what will stir their emotion. With emotional jets stirred, the consumer will follow you and your lineup of spirits with devotion. Consider the following examples:
Heritage Distilling, Gig Harbor Washington: Have a look at the website for this craft distiller sometime. Owners Justin and Jennifer vividly talk about who they are and how their growing-up experiences shaped who they are today. This is the type of story that people like to follow. Small wonder then that Heritage Distilling is enjoying such good success.
Shelter Point Distilling, Vancouver Island, Canada: Have a look at the website for this craft distiller and in particular, look at the short video that tells their story. This is a touching tale of getting in touch with nature, growing barley and using it to craft a distilled spirit. This is what the consumer can emotionally connect with.
At Prohibition University, we stand ready to work with you to help you finesse your marketing story and get your craft distilling venture off to a roaring start. Give us a call. We would love to hear from you.