A thoughtpiece on why drinks startups sometimes fail

Why drinks great brands fail?

The world as it looks today has given us an unprecidented opportunity launch a brand and take it global through reduced legal, production and marketing costs as well as global access to consumers through the social web. 

You no longer need a global business and brand platform to engage with consumers, Facebook and Instagram gives us access to metrics of brand perception and activity whereas 5 years or so ago it was a rush and email based at best. 

So the opportunity is strong but alas, most brands fail. 

Importance of understanding timing

Protecting and communicating key pieces of the brand. 


Timing drives a large part of the strategy of launching any business; if you are too early you have something unique and can get retailer buy in, but on the flip side you need to educate the market and consumer a lot more which is very expensive. 

Coming in too late has obvious disadvantages; cluttered with similar propositions, consumers and trade have heard the same message over and over again so need to bring something new. 

Understanding the best timing to launch is crucial but incredibly hard. 

Fever Tree was the first premium tonic, people did not know they needed it then latched on to it and wanted more so it became an incredible success. 

For anyone trying to launch a brand, analysing the timing of the launch is crucial – sets expectations, use of capital, excites investors, enthusiasm builds as you get it right as the entrepreneur is selling themselves in the short time. 

But ultimately you need to find scaleable tools to build and grow both product and reputations. 

This is rarely taken into account by startups. 

Not often the brand that is the problem, but the mangement of resource and strategy not tailored to timings and needs to be updated and analyse. Shift priorities, move resources around, not sink all capital into a market that is not delivering. 

Also omitted is the brand protection and communication. 

You will get told that each market is different and the ways of operating are different but you need to ask what is different. 

Don’t compromise on key USPs as the brand clearly works, but tailor the comms. 

Listen to the local experts and you will fail as you have lost your authenticity and originality; putting your brand out there as it is is much more valuable than tailoring the product, the look and feel and the approach. 

Trade, consumer and mixolists are different in UK, Spain, US but if you get the brand right you will have global appeal. Not in every case but in the case of mega brands as the true brand identity has not been compromised. 

Adapt but do not reinvent your brand. 

Believe in yourself and your creation. 

Brands get lost in a crowded room. Take Twitter for example, not widely used five years ago but now in the UK you need to engage heavily both with trade and consumer even in the mixer market. Other parts of Europe you will see that there is much less chatter from competitors so you can briefly own 80% of the mixologist conversation and get your message out. 

Stay on top of technology platforms and know the relevant channels for your audience. 

Tags: brands failCraft Spiritsdrinks startupsDrinkWire
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My name is Greg, and I’m a brand strategy consultant, writer, speaker, host and judge specialising in premium spirits. My mission is to experience, share and inspire with everything great about whisky, whiskey, gin, beer and fine dining through my writing, my brand building and my whisky tastings.

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