Just a couple of weeks ago, the University of North Carolina announced it had hired Mack Brown as its new head football coach. Coach Brown had previously been the head coach at NC, but left that position for a 10-year stint to the University of Texas. While at UT, Brown experienced a great deal of success, including winning a national championship in 2005.
After the announcement that Brown would return to the University of North Carolina, a sportswriter wrote a column in which he explained why Brown had left the university and why he, Brown, had now decided to returned. During those years at NC, Coach Brown had built the school’s football program into a powerhouse, even in competition for a conference title. Brown was twice undefeated with 10-win-seasons but had no success beating Florida State University which had runs for the national championship.
The thrust of the writer’s article was that Coach Brown had improved the football program to the point that fans, alumni, and administrators had unrealistic views of where that program should be, given that the university did not provide the resources to NC that were available to Florida State and Alabama. Coach Brown bolted to Texas and the NC program has struggled since.
During the years I ran Warsteiner Importers Agency, our ultimate goal was to grow the brand to the size of Beck’s, a competing import from Germany. Beck’s, at that point, was almost two and a half times larger in the U.S. than Warsteiner. We were, however, able to make some progress until the end of 2008. At that time Warsteiner decided to increase prices and cut marketing and staff.
Despite the cutbacks, the talk continued as to why Warsteiner had to play “second fiddle” to Becks. While I supported the goal to grow Warsteiner to the size of Becks, I reiterated the point that I needed the financial investment to reach those volumes. The brewery’s response, however, was always the same: if you want that support, generate it internally in the U.S.
Ten years later, Warsteiner is still half of what it was in 2008, this time, however, with more internal issues than before. Warsteiner, not unlike the University of North Carolina, did not understand the success they were experiencing at the time. One could say that neither Warsteiner nor the University of North Carolina knew what they had until it was gone.
Coach Brown will return and will now face more realistic expectations from the NC. Ten wins a year is truly a good season, and it appears the fans, alumni, and administration have come to accept that fact. Warsteiner, along with many crafts and other imports have yet to reach this point of realization. No doubt it is, and should always be, a goal of all brands to grow. One needs, however, to have realistic expectations. There is only one Corona!
Wholesalers continue to hear from their suppliers as to the size they desire their brand to, but is such a goal always realistic and achievable? More likely it is not. The rush by craft breweries to increase in size is one of the main reasons that this segment struggles today. Had these owners been realistic when considering the investment, we might not be where we are today.
You are not defeated when you lose. You are defeated when you quit!