In the News
Revolutionizing the Adult Beverage Industry
The E-Premise Group Secures Trademark for ‘E-Premise™’
Denver, CO: The E-Premise Group, a trailblazer in digital shelf merchandising for the adult beverage sector, is proud to announce the acquisition of the trademark for the term “E-Premise.” This term embodies the company’s forward-thinking strategy to empower adult beverage brands to enhance their digital presence and performance.
The E-Premise Group was founded by industry veterans Ethan Stienstra and Dan Kiefer, who bring over half a century of combined experience in the alcohol beverage industry. They recognized the need for a specialized service that would help brands create and manage their digital shelves – a collection of diverse and rapidly evolving digital touchpoints used by shoppers to engage with brands and discover, research, and purchase products.
“We are thrilled to secure the trademark for ‘E-Premise,’ a term that we coined to describe the new frontier of digital merchandising for adult beverage brands,” states CEO, Ethan Stienstra. “E-Premise is not just a buzzword, but a strategic approach to optimize the online presence and performance of our clients’ products. With our trademark, we aim to establish ourselves as the leading experts and innovators in this emerging field.”
The term “E-Premise” encapsulates the company’s vision of transforming brand merchandising from on-premise and off-premise to now, E-Premise. The company provides a suite of services, including digital shelf audits, content creation, shelf optimization, advertising, and analytics, to help brands look better and work harder in the digital space.
“We believe that e-commerce is the future of the industry, and we want to help our clients navigate this rapidly evolving landscape with confidence and creativity. Our goal is to make every digital touchpoint a top-shelf experience for shoppers and brands alike,” says Stienstra.
The trademark for “E-Premise” is a significant milestone for the company, as it demonstrates its leadership and expertise in the field of digital shelf merchandising. The company is proud to share this achievement with its clients, partners, and supporters, and looks forward to continuing to deliver top-shelf digital merchandising solutions for the adult beverage business.
About The E-Premise Group: The E-Premise Group is the leading digital shelf merchandising solution for adult beverage brands. Our mission is to enhance the digital brand experience, foster increased engagement, and drive sales, all while respecting our clients’ budget constraints. As industry leaders, we are committed to delivering top-tier services that revolutionize the way brands connect with their customers in the digital space. Our innovative approach and strategic vision make us the go-to choice for brands seeking to optimize their digital presence.
Source Beer Business Daily | March 31, 2023
AN INDUSTRY VET AND M&A VET WALK INTO A PODCAST
We covered quite a mixed bag of topics in our latest episode of BeerNet Radio, holding a discussion that spanned from e-commerce, to current M&A landscape, as well as trends in craft and more. The reason for the wide-ranging conversation? One of our guests, Ethan Stienstra.
Ethan has been in the industry for nearly 30 years, working at companies like New Belgium, MillerCoors, Red Hook and more over that time. Recently he helped co-found a bev alc consulting firm, called Ahead of The Curve Strategy (AOTC). That’s where the topic of trends comes in.
Since starting AOTC, Ethan has added other businesses too, like creating The E-Premise Group – where the e-commerce discussion comes into play.
On top of this e-premise venture, Ethan recently formed a strategic partnership with investment bank GLC Advisors, called Adult Beverage Ventures. That’s where the M&A color and our other guest on the pod, Michael Richter managing director at GLC Advisors, come into the conversation.
So, plenty to talk about, here are a handful of salient soundbites.
THE E-PREMISE GROUP: “DIGITAL MERCHANDISERS IN THE SKY.” With The E-Premise Group, Ethan explained that they work with an array of bev alc companies (breweries, wineries, RTD brands) that span all different sizes (from a top five global brewer to craft brewers who are in a single state).
INSIGHTS: ONLY 25% OF ONLINE BEER BUYERS SHOP BY BRAND (WINE IS 5%). He explained that merchandising the digital shelf is “all the responsibility of the supplier,” he said. “So that’s where we start,” once they’re situated on the digital shelf, they help out with consumers finding the brands. It’s a “marketing dream,” he said, “because only 25% of consumers are shopping beer by brand [online], and wine is even lower; 5%.” Most shop by style.
E-COMM MOSTLY FOR WINDOW SHOPPING FOR CURBSIDE, BRICK AND MORTAR. That said, “you can really influence consumers’ behavior on what to shop for. And when I say shop, it’s not just delivery … What people are using e-commerce for is learning about brands and finding out pricing, and where it’s close to their house; and maybe it’s a pack size, and then they’re going to bricks and mortar, or having it curbside pickup.” They also help with social commerce, a place where you “have a real big chance to influence people” by “basically showing them your brand and then they can find out more through that social medium,” he said. “And retailers love it. They’re investing in it and it’s going nuts right now. Target, Walmart, Kroger, they’re all investing in digital right now.”
HAS E-COMMERCE REALLY SLOWED DOWN SINCE COVID? “It’s slowed down, but just delivery,” Ethan said. “We’re seeing a big uptick in curbside.” The “big story” here is people are now using the channel “to find brands, research brands, shop brands, and then they’ll skip the high cost of delivery or the minimums, especially in this inflationary environment that we’re in.” He did note they still see an “uptick” in the delivery of super-premium and high-end brands, “but on the premiums and the below premiums, you’re definitely seeing foot traffic to the bricks and mortar through social commerce and e-commerce.”
Source Beer Business Daily | July 21, 2022
Latest Tamarron Results Are In
It’s Tamarron time. The newest results of this wholesaler-on-supplier survey is out. (Spoiler alert: Boston Beer got the highest composite score again.)
As always, the purpose of the “Brewer Partnership Compass” is to understand how distributors score supplier performance against supplier responsibilities; benchmark them against other suppliers; and “find opportunities” to improve the working relationship.
The survey is composed of 47 “performance based” questions, which covered all the major suppliers, from A-B to Boston Beer, Constellation, Diageo Beer Co., HUSA, Molson Coors, Mike’s, New Belgium, and Sierra. (Bell’s was removed this year due to its merger with NBB.)
An overall average score results from the aforementioned 47 questions.
WHO RESPONDED THIS YEAR. 158 wholesalers responded in ’22, down from 228 last year, resulting from lower number of responses from ABI distributors (indeed, only 39 such wholesalers participated, while the highest number of participants came from MC distribs, at 121). The survey was conducted from April 18 to June 1.
LARGER DISTRIBS PLAYED. Also of note, “the distribution of respondents’ annual revenue skewed toward larger distributors in 2022,” per survey results, “with only 30% of the distributors reporting revenue less than $50 million and 70% reporting revenue greater than $50 million,” the summary said.
WHO TOOK TOP MARKS? CONSTELLATION, BOSTON AND ABI. Generally, Boston Beer and Constellation Beer have come out broadly on top. That’s nothing new; Boston often comes out first in these surveys, and Constellation usually fares well, too.
This year, BBC “ranked 1st” on 18 of the 47 questions, per summary, again putting them in first. Constellation came in second overall.
In all, four brewers achieved average performance increases year over year. Those included CBBD and MC (both up 0.08), Diageo Beer Co. (up 0.04) and HUSA (+0.02). The rest showed some degree of decline. The industry average was actually in decline, down 0.01.
RELATIONSHIP/PARTNERSHIP MARKS GO TO A-B, STZ. But ABI took top “Relationship” grades this year, a metric which went to Boston in ’21 [see BBD 07-30-2021]. (Yes, these are separate measures from those 47 questions. “Relationship grades align more with relationships with local/regional teams, while Partnership grades indicate how well brewers collaborate with distributors and partner to grow the business and speak to brewers’ cultures as well,” per Tamarron. The ranking percentages measure the amount of “A” and “B” responses from wholesalers.)
In fact, ABI snagged a 97% relationship grade this year, though their partnership score hit at 85% — and remember, this brewer had the lowest number of responses.
Constellation came in second for Relationship marks, with 92%. But they were first for Partnership marks, at 91%, followed by Boston, at 90%.
Mike’s Hard got the lowest Relationship and Partnership grades in this group, at 73% and 63% (tied with HUSA), respectively.
HOW SUPPLIERS CAN ADDRESS DISTRIBS’ FUTURE NEEDS? One new question added to the survey this year asked how brewers can “be proactive in addressing future business needs of distributors?” (It was basically a roadmap for what suppliers can improve at, which includes e-commerce; category management; innovative course correcting [especially at the local level]; and solicitation of “distributor input on key initiatives.”)
Tamarron summarized the top three responses, like so:
“Understanding and Listening” to Distribs – “As distributors evolve and their businesses become more complex, it is increasingly important for suppliers to understand the challenges, the processes, and the local knowledge & expertise that distributors have,” the consulting firm writes.
E-commerce & Digital Marketing – With e-commerce exploding during the pandemic and playing more of a role in beer sales, “Distributors see the need for improved digital assets, category management and promotions in the Ecommerce channel,” per survey.
Data & Insights – Tamarron said this was “a familiar theme and request” from distribs, as “they understand that suppliers/brewers have greater access to data and are looking for succinct, localized data & insights that will help them sell more beer in their markets.”
In line with the future, Tamarron also asked distribs about “portfolio evolution,” and what type of “beyond beer” categories they have added or wish to add to their house.
THE BEYOND BEER PRODUCTS DISTRIBS WANT. The top category added/wished by distribs was “RTD spirits” by far with about 90% of respondents indicating so.
Next was “wine-based seltzer or RTDs” with nearly 60% of respondents adding or wishing for such products.
“Wine in cans” was the third most sought-after product at a little over 40%.
“CBD beverages” wasn’t far behind, at nearly 40%. And “THC beverages” followed, with about 10% of respondents adding or wishing for them.
HOW WILL DISTRIBS INTEGRATE THESE PRODUCTS? Tamarron asked distribs how they plan to bring such products into their selling/delivery organizations. The majority of respondents (nearly 90%) said they plan to “train and use existing teams”; about 30% of respondents said they would “increase the size of existing teams”; and around a quarter of distribs said they would “add specialty selling teams.”
BRANDS DOWN, SKUS UP. But despite the desire for more beyond beer brands from distribs, the average number of brands dropped slightly for the group in 2022, at 297 (down 13 from 310 in 2022). SKUs, however, were up to 1,371 (+96 from 1,275 in 2022).
WHEN DOES COPYING A COCKTAIL GO TOO FAR?
Here’s a story for all the suppliers producing or planning to produce a malt-based beverage that carries a cocktail name. There’s a lot out there.
And to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with slapping a name like “Margarita” on a malt-based product. The TTB says it is fine to do so, as long as “the overall label does not present a misleading impression about the identity of the product.”
But where’s that line of “a misleading impression”? Well, that appears to be up to interpretation, and we got a look at how it could be interpreted by some American people as well as a court, in the class action suit brought against A-B and its Ritas line, which was recently settled (a settlement that could prove costly for A-B). Read on…
A CASE STUDY: A-B’s RITAS. Recall, a group of plaintiffs filed a class action suit against A-B a couple years back, claiming the brewer deceptively marketed its Ritas line of Margarita, Mojito, Rosé, and Sangria beverages, as they are all malt-based and contain no spirits or wine.
The plaintiffs’ story went something like this:
They walked into a store, saw a Ritas Sparkling Margarita pack (for example), bought it, and were shocked to discover that the product contained no tequila.
‘How could this be?’ There’s an image of a salted margarita glass right there on the packaging, the plaintiffs argued.
Then too, “nowhere” on the consumer facing panels did the pack state that the products do not have tequila, according to the plaintiffs.
In fact, it wasn’t until the plaintiffs flipped over the pack to observe the bottom panel, a spot “where no reasonable consumer would look prior to purchase,” that they were confronted with the harsh reality in “a small font statement” – the Margarita products are actually “Malt Beverage[s] With Natural Flavors and Caramel Color.”
And you know the drill from here… the plaintiffs claim they wouldn’t have bought such a product (or paid less for it) had they known it didn’t contain any tequila. They allegedly “suffered injury-in-fact and lost money.”
A-B attempted to dismiss the suit with two primary arguments: a) that they did disclaim that the products are all malt-based (even if it wasn’t on a consumer facing panel) and b) that TTB regulations permit the use of cocktail names for malt beverage products (as we alluded to in the opening).
But the Missouri federal court denied A-B’s motion to dismiss, finding that the Plaintiffs had “adequately alleged that AB’s representations would likely mislead a reasonable consumer.” The Court added that the Plaintiffs identified “more than just a single word on the Products’ packaging to support its allegations, and the impact of the packaging disclosure, as well as other advertisement disclosures, on the overall appearance of the Products is a question of fact best answered at a later stage in this case.”
But the case never really made it to “a later stage,” as it was settled earlier this year. And terms of that settlement were released earlier this week.
WHAT’S THE DAMAGE FOR A-B? The settlement covers consumers who purchased the products in question since the start of 2018, and “Class members with proof of purchase may recover up to $21.25 per household,” while “those without purchase substantiation are eligible for up to $9.75 per household,” per Bloomberg Law.
“Should the settlement class members submit more than one million claims, irrespective of the total dollar amount, Anheuser-Busch has the unconditional right, but not the obligation, to terminate the agreement,” writes Bloomberg Law.
So, if the number of claims hit right at that million-mark, A-B could be looking at a max payout of $9.75 million to $21.25 million.
On top of that, “the plaintiffs’ attorneys may seek up to $2.1 million in fees and costs, and may request service awards up to $2,500 for each of the six class representatives,” reports Bloomberg Law, though A-B “retains the right to oppose those awards.”
And finally, A-B “has agreed to add the words ‘Malt Beverage’ on the drinks’ packaging and to include disclaimers on the product websites noting that the drinks don’t contain distilled spirits.”
BOTTOM LINE: If the class action attorneys in this case stand to gain a potential $2.1 million in fees, then you best believe they’ll be back with their pole at this fishing hole. That said, if you as a supplier haven’t made it clear that your beverage carrying a cocktail name is malt-based on your packaging, do so.
DRIZLY: TOP NEW RELEASE TRENDS FOR Q2
Drizly recently released a report on new product releases for the second quarter of 2022. Although common knowledge might predict a rise in light beer and rosé sales for the warmer months, Drizly found that its users instead “tapped into fresh trends,” like year-round gifting and special collaborations that are typically more popular around the holiday season.
Without further ado, here’s the list of the top ten best-selling releases in Q2 2022 on the Drizly platform:
Topo Chico Margarita Hard Seltzer VP
Don Julio Blanco Tequila with Guacamole Bowl
Flying Embers Cherry Hibiscus Lime
High Noon Lemon Vodka Hard Seltzer
White Claw Refresher Lemonade VP
Gran Coramino Cristalino Reposado Tequila
Fre Red Blend
Simply Spiked Lemonade VP
Jack Daniel’s Bonded Tennessee Whiskey
Crown Royal Fine De Luxe Blended Canadian Whisky, 750 ml
BEER AND WINE UNDERREPRESENTED. Notably, traditional beer and wine products were lacking on the larger top 20 new releases list, with Fre Red Blend alcohol-free wine and Zero Gravity I’m a Radio IPA the only beer and wine SKUs represented.
“While we saw new vintages of existing products see success, we did not see many new products make the top 20 this quarter, which is somewhat surprising given the innovation happening particularly in the canned wine and ‘light’ wine space,” said Drizly head of consumer insights Liz Paquette.
Meanwhile, hard seltzers continue to claim top spots on the new release list, showing that “consumers are still apt to try new innovations in the category,” despite an overall share growth slowdown, noted Liz.
LEMON FLAVOR ON THE RISE. Lemon-specific flavored products saw a big boost for the quarter, making up a fifth of the most popular new products on Drizly. This may signal a shift toward “traditional summertime flavors,” Drizly notes, as opposed to recent trends that feature more creative flavor combinations.
Those products include High Noon Lemon Vodka Hard Seltzer, White Claw Refresher Lemonade Variety Pack, Simply Spiked Lemonade Variety Pack and Smirnoff Seltzer Neon Lemonades Mix Pack– all “established brands” with strong national distribution, Drizly noted.
“While citrus flavors are typically popular during the summer months, it is interesting to see how lemon in particular has really taken hold of the most popular releases this past quarter,” Liz commented.
SPECIAL EDITION SPIRITS RELEASES HERE TO STAY. Among the top 20 most popular new spirits products, seven were special edition spirits, “proving their year-round staying power,” noted Drizly. Most of these products were in the vodka or whiskey categories, showing that consumers are “most eager to try spin-offs within their preferred categories.”
THREE OF TOP 20 INCLUDE ACCESSORIES. Value-added-packs (VAPs), which include accessories (like branded shot glasses or mugs) alongside the product, made up three of the top 20 most popular new product launches in the first quarter. This plays into the larger trend of “just because” gifting trend Drizly has noted in previous reports.
CELEBRITY COLLABS ALSO POPULAR. A couple of celebrity-owned brands made it into the top 20 list this quarter as well: comedian Kevin Hart’s Gran Coramino Cristalino Reposado Tequila and artist A$AP Rocky’s Mercer + Prince Blended Canadian Whisky. Drizly noted that this success indicates “consumers remain eager to try new products backed by popular figures.” And despite the onslaught of celebrity tequila launches, interest in Gran Coramino suggests there is still room for growth within the tequila category, noted Liz.
Source: Beer Business Daily | May 4th 2022
AHEAD OF THE CURVE FOUNDERS LAUNCH E-PREMISE CONSULTING FIRM
Ahead of the Curve, a bev alc consulting firm launched by industry vets Ethan Stienstra and Dan Kiefer in 2020, is making in-roads in the fast-growing e-commerce space. The duo announced that they are launching another company, The E-Premise Group (TEG), to improve digital merchandising and drive online alcohol sales for clients, as the space evolves and grows — quickly.
TEG also announced that former Craft Brew Alliance Chief Commercial Officer, Derek Hahm, will take over as CCO for the new company. Derek has played a large role in building Kona Brewing’s brand and making it a national leader in craft. “E-Commerce growth is accelerating so rapidly right now that we really wanted an industry veteran with a skill set as strong as Derek’s to help lead the charge,” said Ethan. “By building a team exclusively dedicated to driving growth online, we can provide our clients with the tools and talent to quickly take advantage of this emergent channel and build upon their on- and off-premise strategies.” “I’m incredibly excited about the opportunity to be a part of The E-Commerce Group’s future,” said Derek. “Ethan and Dan have built a world-class branding agency at Ahead of the Curve Strategy, and they have correctly identified the opportunity for explosive growth in the E-premise. I look forward to applying my years of experience to this fast-moving space.”
Ahead of the Curve and TEG’s team of industry experts and analysts are already working with big name brewers like Sierra Nevada, Odell, Perrin Brewing and Avery Brewing Company.
THE STRAIGHT DOPE. We got Ethan and Derek on the horn recently to get a little more insight into this project. Ethan says they decided to get into this side of the biz when they noticed that a lot of brands didn’t look great on the virtual shelf, on phones and computers.
“Basically what we do is, we help companies merchandize their [virtual] shelves,” Ethan told BBD. It’s just like with any brick-and-mortar outfit, where people merchandize the shelf, make sure that it looks right, and that “old packaging is not on the shelf.”
They work with breweries, wineries and distilleries, who often have nobody merchandising this space.
“That’s where we see our niche with TEG. It’s kind of a service, a commoditized service. So we’re helping Sierra, Odell, CANarchy and a bunch of others. “
“It’s certainly not sexy work; it’s spreadsheets, data, pixel moving. Troubleshooting between retailers, tech departments. And it’s super time consuming. And like I said, it’s a lot of phone calls… what it would take an internal person at a brewery to do … [devoting] around 20-30 hours for one retailer, it takes us 10 or 5.”
BUT HOW MUCH CAN YOU AFFECT HOW A BRAND LOOKS IN DRIZLY? (AND OTHERS LIKE IT) We wondered, for example, how much an e-commerce retail portal like Drizly arranges its own virtual interface. “They do not … set the shelf; it needs to be done by the supplier,” said Ethan. “And that’s where we come in,” at a fraction of the time.
New CCO Derek says it’s not just about having the right picture on the virtual shelf (although that’s important), it’s also about the quality and quantity of info.
“That’s what they are looking for… that is done manually,” and a lot of folks don’t know how to do that.
We wondered about Derek’s first action items as CCO.
He wants to help people understand what they do and how it can grow their businesses.
“I’ve spoken to [many] breweries in the last 3 weeks, and I start my question with, ‘who manages [your] digital shelf?’ ‘I don’t know,’ is the answer. I send them screenshots. We can help them sell more beer. And we can do it to their target consumer. And I think, having lived it [with Kona and CBA], it makes sense, and people understand.”