One Blog |April 19, 2011 | Point-of-Sale Marketing Management

Point-of-Sale Marketing - Means Marketing Success - WSWA 2011

Mark Fullerton

WSWA 2011

Point-of-Sale Marketing - Means Marketing Success

We just returned from the 2011 WSWA 68th Annual Convention & Exposition in Orlando. On Tuesday, the day after the exhibition hall closed, we attended a great educational session:

Brand Builders: Case Histories of Successful Brand Launches, Expansions and Initiatives.”

A Saturated Market

This session offered valuable advice to both suppliers and wholesalers. The opinion of the panelists was that even though the alcohol beverage market is saturated, every year there is a net gain in new “adult beverage” SKU’s. And there's no end in sight. Producers, large and small, are continuously developing and bringing new products to the market in hopes of becoming the next big thing.

According to Dimensional Insight, the number of alcohol beverage SKU’s in the US now exceeds 100,000. No wonder it is difficult — and potentially very expensive — for a new beverage to gain a foothold and take off.

The panelists, as well as other attendees, generally agree on one thing: To be successful, new products have to be promoted before large wholesalers give them much shelf space. Even small wholesalers need incentives from suppliers to promote the newest beverages.

Suggested Approach

The most common theme throughout the panel presentations, and from the attendees, was that a new product (unless it is from a name-brand company or family) must be tasted or sampled to gain a following. These new products must be promoted at the point-of-sale (POS) to introduce and reinforce consumer awareness. According to the experts, suppliers and wholesalers we spoke with, new alcohol beverages are best promoted via sampling (B2B) and tasting (B2C) events, menu placements, or retail signage and displays

In summary: Point-of-Sale is one of the most effective and efficient methods to promote adult beverages. POS, in other words, “Means Marketing.” Sounds so easy “All you have to do” is come up with sampling allowances and marketing co-op programs to encourage wholesalers. The quick answer may be “yes,” but it’s more complicated than offering up to a 50 percent sample allowance, or allowing wholesalers to recover $15.00 “per mention” on their customer drink menus.

Prove It Or Else!

As a wholesaler, you may be at a point where in return for the supplier’s investment in your point-of-sale marketing, the supplier wants to see measurable results from your marketing campaigns including: sampling, drink menus, signs and displays.

Today, supplier top management needs “statistical assurances” or reports before they “write the check” to wholesalers who are claiming marketing or sampling recovery dollars. The days are gone when a wholesaler can just pick up the phone and ask his supplier for $5,000 to reimburse the wholesaler for POS spending campaigns. Suppliers are correct in requesting detailed reports from wholesalers. These types of reports have, for some wholesalers, always been possible, but often very difficult to produce — Especially without technology to help easily assemble and produce these reports. So, if you haven’t been asked to produce such “assurances reports” previously — be prepared.


For any company looking to introduce or launch a new product here’s an accurate, but greatly oversimplified, summary from the 68th Annual WSWA Convention:

“If you want to successfully bring your new alcohol beverages to a saturated market, you must provide a mix of POS marketing (sampling, menus, signs and displays), with conventional sales (feet on the street) and other marketing efforts (social media, mobile-technology, the Internet, email and direct-mail, and print and broadcast media).

Next, measure which of these approaches are both the most effective and most efficient — then, spend appropriately.”

After three days of listening to presenters and attendees alike, at least one thing is clear: Measured and managed POS is the most cost effective tools you can and should deploy — today — to achieve success.

The strategies and tactics these marketing approaches represent are the “liquid in marketing’s bottle and not the label slapped on top.” — quoted from the 2011 WSWA program guide.


Mark Fullerton

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