What’s been apparent for years in other industries is now becoming more and more clear in the beverage industry, and it’s this simple new rule: it’s the consumer who’s deciding these days.
It used to be the major suppliers had much more control. Big advertising budgets were set, and there wasn’t all that much competition. The consumer had very little information, and even less choice. Now with the surge in small artisanal brands and the massive SKU proliferation in distributors’ warehouses and on retail shelves, the game has completely changed. It will be the consumer who spreads the buzz on a new brand or segment. The consumer is the storyteller and is the new equivalent of a large ad budget.
Today’s consumer has too much information and is too value-driven to be told what they’re going to drink. At the end of the day what this means is that the old rules for big companies won’t work anymore. Big suppliers will need to learn not only how to listen to consumers better – but also how to release, let go, and allow the consumer to find, consume and champion their brands. The consumer is now in charge.