StateWays - July/August 2015

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

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Page 23 of 51

T he theme of this year's NABCA Annual Con- ference, held at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoe- nix, was "Caring for the Customer." Chosen by NABCA Chairman and Idaho State Liquor Division Director Jeff Anderson, the theme was two-fold: it represented control states' dedication to serv- ing the needs of licensees, as well as consumers. Following the event, the role of Chairman passed to Stephen Lar- son, the Administrator of the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division. He's chosen "Collaboration Creates Op- portunity" as next year's theme, which builds on the work he's done in Iowa. Stephanie O'Brien, the Chair of the Vermont Department of Liquor Control, was chosen as Chairman Elect, and will take over for Larson next May during the 2016 NABCA Conference in Orlando. StateWays n n July/August 2015 24 NABCA CONFERENCE The Trade Show floor was buzzing with activity near the BuzzBallz booth (pictured), which showed off the latest flavors and sizes for the RTD brand. Caring for the Customer BY JEREMY NEDELKA Chairman Jeffrey Anderson from Idaho (left), with Freakonomics author Steven Levitt and Incoming Chairman Stephen Larson from Iowa (right). This year's event included a number of interesting sessions, bringing together members of the control state industry, bev- erage alcohol trade groups and supplier companies. IS LOYALTY DEAD? A panel discussion on brand loyalty included co-moderators Anderson and Larson, along with Beam Suntory NA Presi- dent Tim Hassett, Proximo President Mark Teasdale, E & J Gallo's Ernest Gallo and Sazerac President Mark Brown. "Loyalty was easy when Cuervo equaled tequila in con- sumers' minds, but now we need to create an emotional connection and engage with consumers," Teasdale said. "The problem is that there's a plethora of consumer op- tions available from around the world." Gallo added that another difficulty with branding in today's market is consumers confusing categories and brands. "We faced that in the wine industry with Char- donnay being considered a brand," he said. "Now Bour- bon is a brand and Rye is a brand; it's easy for consumers to experiment within the category when they're not thinking of specific brands." The panelists also discussed the rise of craft products, with Brown offering his take on craft beers versus craft spirits. "What's driving craft beer and craft spirits are different," he said. "Consumers felt big brewers were generic and wanted more flavorful beers. That's not the case in spirits, where the big distillers have plenty of niche products. It's being driven by local producers, which consum- ers find attractive." As competition heats up within a single category, overall consumer tastes are also changing. "The is- sue is less around category disloy- alty than it is category blurring," Hassett said. "Spirits are going after occasions that were tradition- ally the domain or beer or wine. In the past we defaulted to the assumption that certain domains belonged to certain categories or brands, but we're changing that paradigm." Ultimately, the three-tier system The barrier to entry for new brands is very low in our industry. — Sazerac President Mark Brown

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