WSWA 76 Emphasizes Value of Three-Tier System

Today wraps up the 76th annual Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America convention. This year, your editor noticed there was a lot of focus on communicating the value of the three tier system. 

In fact, incoming WSWA chairman Sydney Ross, Great Lakes Wine & Spirits vice chairman, took the stage Tuesday morning opining the “necessity” of the three tier system. “It’s not the easiest path but it’s the one that keeps the country safe,” he said.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t recognize the need to evolve with a changing environment and consumer taste. The idea is to “move with change, not against it,” he said.

NEW WSWA CHIEF TAKES THE STAGE. Recently appointed WSWA chief Michelle Korsmo also highlighted the value of the three tier system, as well as the importance of the spirit of entrepreneurship in the industry. Thinking like an entrepreneur means keeping your finger on the pulse and being open to change. “My charge is to help the wholesalers evolve with the marketplace,” she said.

Speaking about consumers, she quoted Amazon chief Jeff Bezos: “Consumers are always wonderfully dissatisfied.” The key is to “pay attention to that dissatisfaction,” she added.

For more on Michelle’s thoughts on the industry’s top issues, see WSD 04-01-2019.

TRENDS TO WATCH. Michelle also shared some insight from WSWA’s upcoming data project launch, called Sip Source. Sip Source will include product category and segment reporting, as well as a list of top performing brands and insight from a supplier and wholesaler survey about where they think the industry is headed and their predictions for 2019.

For instance, those surveyed overwhelmingly said that product packaging will be a more significant factor this year. Indeed, this idea cropped up a few times during the convention, particularly in this morning’s Brand Battle, WSWA’s version of Shark Tank where up-and-coming brands pitch their story live.

A few other snippets from the survey:

Expect continuation of 2018 trends, such as growth in rose and mezcal.

A focus on premium products.

Spirits will continue to grow between 2%-5% while wine will be flat to 2% growth.

Expect retail to outperform current trends.

Wine & Spirits Daily