The Set is *MORE* Controlled Than I EVEN Imagined. How naive was I, anyway?

I recently wrote, “The Set” ~ Could it be more controlled?, only to privately find out, “Well yeah!”

It’s not just the wholesalers, it’s also your supermarket chain divisions. Here’s capitalism at work…

I got a private Email from someone who knows the system well, and this is what was explained to me.

As I explained to my source, when I sold wine, I wasn’t the national chain sales manager, so I was never privy to this info; although, I did hear some rumblings about the stage where this game is played out. I just never had to work it. Here’s how the Northeast works. You can apply this to all areas of the US. The northeast isn’t an isolated area… Only the names are changed as you go along with the chains.

Once a year in January, Chain Marketer A (corporate office in the Midwest) sends out a request for all distributors in their respective markets to suggest new products for the store sets. The national sales guys get first crack and domaine based on the back room, dark alley shelf placement deals. They then select about 15 new sku’s to add to the shelf and drop about 15 -20 sku’s. They then send out a list in early March for store resets in April to June.

Most store /category managers at the store level, can make a few small additions and subtractions based on market demands, but are not empowered to alter placement. Store plano-grams are sent down from the Midwest and suppliers are tasked with making it look similar.

Chain Marketer B is slightly different in that as a regional supermarket. They have a cattle call for new products. Major brands are given designated appointments to pitch samples (two bottles each) and the rest are taken American Idol style, wait in line, turn over two samples and price sheets placed on long tables ……next please…. A week later they send out an add and drop report, with this year’s authorized product list.

This process happens regardless of the current pending legislation. National sales guys will still have the lion’s share of the products, regardless of local distributors desires.

So, there’s how it’s done, boys and girls, for those of you with a brand and having wanderlust about going to wholesalers who you think “might” pick up your brand for sales outside of your winery.

What will you do to be able to break that chain?

I think it helps to understand the system and reality of it all, because I work with many small producers of fine wine, who just don’t “get” why their wonderful wine is just not picked by wholesaler or chain stores. Now, it’s spelled out… right here before you.

You efforts should be entirely devoted to direct sales marketing, if you’re ever going to sell every bottle you’ve produced, minus your samples from your promotional budget. When your brand is so hot and it sells itself, someone might notice… but not a second before, truth being told.

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