The long-anticipated expansion of Coors into central and South Texas in 1976 had retailers chopping at the bit. The Coors Brewing Co. appointment process was highly published and hundreds of individuals applied for franchises. As the distributorships were awarded, the media jumped all over those announcements and people were excitedly anticipating the rollout. Coors rolled out in San Antonio in March 1976. The largest chain at the time was Handy Andy, and when the Coors arrived at their stores, space had already been allocated in the box next to Schlitz, the market leader and giant. There was no paperwork, no scanning, no presentations, no spreadsheets, no resets and no round tables. All the retailer expected the driver to do was to price the six packs and stock the beer. It should be noted that the few chains that existed during the 70s did not participated in the annual reviews and resets which are common today. Annually, there were few, if any, new products or packages and since all sales were Diver Sales, it was incumbent upon the driver to sell the products. Fortunately, such sales were relatively easy.
In 2020, the industry is looking at the spring resets for all chains including seltzers, which, of course, are on fire. To put things into historical perspective, one must consider that just HEB alone, one of the larger chains, has approved 509 new SKUs this spring! 509! How does one handle 509 new SKU’s? Did 509 old SKU’s get replaced?
While most vendors and distributors anticipate the upcoming resets, AB and their wholesalers’ rollout of Bud Light Seltzer was nothing short of remarkable. AB, aired a TV spot for the Seltzer during this year’s Super Bowl, used that spot and their wholesaler network to take Bud Light Seltzer to market. This led to obtaining a place in the market where within three weeks and Bud Light Seltzer recorded just over 10% share of the seltzer segment. This is remarkable and shows the industry how effective the AB system is when all the components come together. It also illustrates the frustration the remainder of the industry, especially the crafts; have in getting their beer to retail. Crafts, historically have not, or will not, invest in experienced chain personnel or financially support chains, thus creating a level of frustration with the execution of the AB and MC networks.
The industry awaits the beginning of the spring resets while AB and their wholesalers benefit from their ability to move and execute. It will be interesting to follow the success/failure this spring and summer of the 509 new SKUs. And it is a safe bet that AB will have something to say about those 509 SKUs and that success.
Execution beats strategy for lunch.