The Marketer Behind AVEC on Which Omnichannel Strategies Work (And Which Don't)
We caught up with Marketing Lead Major Carr to dish on going omnichannel, TikTok Shop, and must-haves for a brand's sales team.
SAMPLING, SALES, IN-STORE DEMOS, AND REBATES: WHAT WORKS AND WHAT DOESN'T
The consumer landscape looks pretty different than it did just a few years ago, pushing so many DTC native brands to switch up their growth & acquisition strategies. In this new miniseries, we pick the brains of the founders, marketers, and operators behind brands navigating the shift. Today: AVEC's Brand & Marketing Lead, Major Carr, on what's working to scale their beverage brand-- and what isn't.
What are some of the biggest hills you’ve had to climb in the last year or so as a marketer? What’s the dream state for AVEC in 2024?
Balancing the budget to support both our growing online channels, as well as shopper and trade marketing programs, as well as making better products, as well as... the list goes on and on. Being really decisive on what we spend and what should be prioritized will always be one of our biggest hurdles— especially given the current fundraising environment CPG is facing. The dream state for AVEC is doubling down only a handful of tactics that we know from experience work for us, and enable effective and efficient spend.
How have the DTC and omnichannel landscape changed for AVEC in the last year or two? Are you feeling bullish, and on which channels?
The DTC landscape, in my opinion, has become quite grim, frankly. DTC is great for our awareness and brand-building, as anyone anywhere can buy AVEC. Plus we can connect with customers at a deeper level than at retail. However, rising acquisition costs, shipping costs, and the growing dominance of Amazon have really presented some hurdles to the success of DTC.
How have you approached “sampling” in the past? Has it changed?
I have spent a lot of time and effort over the years planning samplings at retailers, sourcing and organizing field marketers to support our efforts, and Amazon-ordering sample kits to people across the country. We believed (and were told time and time again) that our beverage brand needed to be in-store sampling like every other beverage brand. But honestly? We often did not see a positive ROI on most samplings. Our product comes in 4-packs, and is typically on the dry shelf. We are meant for a specific occasion, not on-the-go drinking. Agencies and freelance field marketers can cost upwards of $225 a demo! So, we have ended the majority of our in-store demoing and instead focus on rebate programs to offer incentives to trial our brand to targeted customers.
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What are some of the biggest hurdles driving sell-through in stores? Where do things get stuck? What tactics or tools actually work?
My very not-sexy take on driving sell-through in stores is: make sure your basic foundations are covered. Is your product in stock? Is your product visible? Does your product have price tags? I feel like many brands try to get smart on driving velocity before doing the basics of checking in at the store level, a merchandising level. Promos and influencer campaigns only go so far if the customers literally cannot reach the product in-store. This is especially true with brands entering retail for the first time, because you're typically entering via independent stores who may not have the most buttoned-up processes like a massive chain when it comes to loading in new products, etc.
What’s your take on pay-to-play retailers or partners who require really substantial investment to get the right placement on-shelf? Worth it, unavoidable cost of growth, or shady?
Undoubtedly shady, but also everyone wants to get their piece of the pie, I guess. My take and advice is things like free-fills are sometimes unavoidable but certainly negotiable, and a great sales team should be able to present the brand in an way that is so exciting to a buyer that they just need the product on shelf by any means necessary; and, a great marketing team should support this by creating outstanding demand. It creates a brand that excites a retailer so much that they are willing to negotiate on the buy-in.
What advice do you have for marketers who are pushing a DTC brand into new sales channels for the first time, as a brand that’s nailed that expansion?
Get yourself into the store. Walk around, watch what people are buying, talk to the staff, see what is around your placement, ask people why they shop at the store, and ask employees about restocking and how things are going. The amount of touchpoints and people your product physically interacts with within the retail supply chain is mind-blowing. Having a clear understanding of how things operate within each chain's system (including how their customers act) helps with clear-headed decision-making and quick problem-solving.
Lightning round ⚡
Your take on some of the new trends and channels we're seeing? TikTok Shop? Flip?
I think if you are a brand built on virality and have some extra change lying around, these channels are great. However, I personally am fearful of channels that thrive on providing extreme discounts to the end consumer. I prefer to lean into still-emerging-yet-established platforms like Instacart. That has been a great platform for us to build on.
What's your favorite omnichannel brand? Who do you look to for inspiration or think is crushing it?
Bachan's, the Japanese BBQ sauce, is one of my brand inspirations, especially from an omnichannel marketing standpoint. In 2022, they raised a great Series A and very effectively put that capital to work. I feel like they have penetrated the retail landscape so quickly, and in memorable ways with beautiful, bespoke merchandising that actively speaks to the consumer, while moving product. All while also scaling Amazon (I believe they are in Top 10 best-selling BBQ sauces on Amazon) and direct-to-consumer. Bachan's is also a great example of a brand that will have to fight against the rise of private-label brands so many retailers are pushing; and, frankly, it is a fight I think Bachan's will easily be winning.
Favorite way to enjoy a can of AVEC?
I love the non-alc movement, but first and foremost: I love a great cocktail. Our new Fuji Apple & Cardamom flavor with a good whiskey is my current go-to AVEC drink.
AVEC uses Thingtesting to power sell-through and acquisition in retailers like Sprouts, Wegman’s, BevMo and Boisson. Curious about learning more or doing the same? Learn more about our growth tools here or watch a quick demo.