By Mariana Rivas
Getting a product to the grocery store is tricky, but perhaps there’s one industry in Fort Worth that knows how to navigate the process best — local breweries. Rahr & Sons Brewing Company and Martin House Brewing Company are two brewers whose products get prominent display at grocery stores like Central Market and Tom Thumb. How did they get their product to the store in an increasingly saturated market? Here’s their advice.
(1) Time is of the essence. Don’t wait to start thinking about retail. Once you have the idea, the sooner the product is available to customers, the better. “It’s always the right time,” Rahr & Sons co-founder Erin Rahr says. She says that from the moment they knew they were bottling, they had to start making connections with distributors. Shugg Cole, director of marketing at Martin House, also recommends getting a head start, as each retailer has different systems for selling products. “The earlier you can iron out the details, the better,” he says.
(2) It’s all about real estate. Saving your spot is a big part of staying competitive in the brewing industry. “It’s important to make sure your product is seen on shelves,” Cole says. For Martin House, that means emphasizing branding and art so that products visually stand out from the rest. For Rahr & Sons, that means keeping an eye on quality — shelf space is limited in the grocery store, so “consistency is key” to make sure retailers still want to work with you, Rahr says.
(3) Be nice. Being personable goes a long way when interacting with retailers and customers, Cole says, and meeting their needs is just as important as fulfilling yours. Rahr & Sons works with distributors on a daily basis to hit their goals. “It’s like a marriage,” Rahr says.
(4) Stay original. Like everything else in business, staying on the shelf comes down to one thing: having a good product. Cole says Martin House’s niche is the ability to incorporate unique tastes to its brew, like The Salty Lady, which combines salt and coriander. For Rahr, it’s all about quality, spending time in the lab testing and finding ways to maintain shelf-life stability.
(5) Keep it growing. Growth shouldn’t stop once you’ve made it to one grocery store. Cole says the quest for more retailers never ends: “We are constantly searching for accounts where we think our brand would sell well.”