Brandweek October 2007, “New Products: Stella Vets Try Putting PALM in American Hands”
Two beer execs conspire to give consumers more variety by forming Latis.
October 08, 2007 by Mike Beirne
Beer drinkers will experiment with imports. That was one of the valuable lessons Anthony Giardina and David van Wees learned.
So the two former Stella Artois stewards co-founded Latis, a specialty beer importer in Ridgefield, Conn., with the aim of bringing new brews into the fold.
Latis’ first find is Belgium’s largest independent brewer: PALM Breweries. PALM’s three-pronged launch strategy is positively Stella-esque: 1. Start with draught only; 2. Get distribution in the right outlets, not big volume accounts, but at on-the-edge bars favored by influencers; 3. Reinforce the idea that PALM is special by serving in a glass that is a cross between a goblet and a brandy snifter, and sample like crazy.
“We’re going to the accounts that the big guys are not calling on because it doesn’t make sense for them from a volume standpoint to be in there,” said Giardina, formerly brand manager for Stella Artois at InBev, Norwalk, Conn. “We see an opportunity to be in places where the consumers are not looking for the Bud of a home country. They’re looking for the Scottish Newcastle.”
Big brewers have tasted success with their import portfolios. Miller Brewing reported import sales shot up double-digits for the five months ending last August. Anheuser-Busch, which distributes InBev brands, is on its way to adding about 4% this year to its market share of high-end beverages (defined as imports, craft, superpremium brands and malternatives), thanks to the growth of Belgian favorites Stella Artois and Hoegaarden, per Beer Marketer’s Insights.
Latis has lined up Miller and Coors wholesalers to begin distribution during the fourth quarter in New York, San Diego, Portland, Ore., and Seattle.
Unlike the typical top down approach, where the brewer dictates the annual business plan, Latis and the distributors will develop the strategy and submit the draft to PALM.
While both A-B and Miller increased their investment in grass roots marketing, the Latis partners contend that the mass market brewers won’t be as effective in hand selling if the “same rep calling on the ESPN Zone is also knocking on the door of a SoHo lounge,” said Giardina. email@example.com