U.S. Drinks Conference 2007 a 'Resounding Success'

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The central theme emerging from the conference was how the changing US distribution landscape has had a fundamental impact not only on how new brands should approach the market, but also on how established players in the industry are adapting. The US represents one of the largest markets in the world for beer, wine and spirits.

We clearly touched a nerve among international Drinks executives interested in how to enter and succeed in the U.S. market. We had 57 attendees joining us from over a dozen countries, representing suppliers of spirits, beer and wine brands and coming from as far away as India

The U.S. Drinks Conference held in London Oct. 16 was characterized as a "resounding success" according to conference organizer John Beaudette of MHW Ltd.

"We clearly touched a nerve among international Drinks executives interested in how to enter and succeed in the U.S. market. We had 57 attendees joining us from over a dozen countries, representing suppliers of spirits, beer and wine brands and coming from as far away as India," according to Beaudette.

Feedback was uniformly positive, "the comprehensiveness, specificity and utility of the information was outstanding," commented attendee Mike Piple of MGM India. The central theme emerging from the conference was how the rapidly changing…or perhaps better stated as "changed"…US distribution landscape has had a fundamental impact not only on how new brands should approach the market, but also on how established players in the industry are adapting.

Ron Lepow of Glazer's Distributors message was that the responsibility of building a new brand rests with the supplier, not the distributor. "In the old days, distributors competed to represent new brands. Now the tables have been turned, and suppliers struggle just to get appointments. The wholesaler's time is dedicated to the big, global Drinks Companies, leaving little or no time to devote to new suppliers. That means that a new supplier must show how they will sell and promote their brands in the market with very limited assistance from the distributor," he said.

While suppliers understood the challenges, the audience also recognized the vast opportunities the US presents in terms of market growth and rising brand valuations.

Presentations from the other speakers were also well received including case histories on the story behind the success of Yellow Tail Wines by Mark Lyle of W. J. Deutsch & Sons and how Warsteiner outpaced the other German beers in the US by Greg Hardman of CMB. Bill Earle of NABI gave a summary of pending regulatory changes in America, Jeff Grindrod of Brand Action Team presented market research on U.S. consumer behavior and Mike Ginley of Next Level gave a comprehensive overview of the US wine, beer and spirits markets, and trends. Steve Raye of Brand Action Team shared insights on how to allocate marketing budgets and integrate the web and John Beaudette of MHW shared a précis of U.S. market entry options, approaches, procedures as well as a review of brand sales and valuations.

Based on the success of this inaugural event, the organizers plan to expand the conference's reach to Continental Europe and the emerging markets of Asia and India next year. Information on the conference can be found at http://www.USDrinksConference.com

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