Brian Rosen knows that it takes a lot for brands to stand out in today’s competitive market. Dubbed the “Brand Whisperer” by Adult Beverage Trend Magazine, Rosen is regarded globally as the leading authority in the three-tier system, retail off-premise, marketing, merchandising, e-commerce, and go to market strategy for the adult beverage space in any tier. He currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer at BevStrat, America’s leading brand sales and marketing firm for beverage brands under 100,000 cases in market. BevStrat engages more than 200 people in 22 states as boots on the ground to support traditional and non-traditional distribution.
We caught up with Rosen to learn more about BevStrat, its growing impact on the alc bev world, and what’s ahead for the industry.
ForceBrands: You’re a beverage industry veteran – tell us about your background and how it prepared you for leading BevStrat.
Brian Rosen: I’ve been a lifelong leader in the adult beverage category. Prior to BevStrat, I served as the CEO of my own $100 million-retail liquor enterprise, was a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Adult Beverage, and was a lead consultant in Trade Marketing at Anheuser-Busch.
FB: BevStrat is a unique business that doesn’t act as a broker, nor distributor. Tell us what sets the BevStrat model apart?
BR: Brokers create the same hierarchy as a distributor in that they focus on selling the easy brands because that’s where the money is — they sell what’s convenient for them. What makes us different is that we are hired directly by the brand so there is no hierarchy. Because we’ve eliminated the hierarchy in selling, smaller under-the-radar brands get equal opportunity for exposure that they otherwise wouldn’t get. Brands who work with us also benefit from access to BevStrat’s extensive data, CRM software, and established relationships with suppliers, key account managers, and more.
FB: BevStrat acts as a retained sales force for brands. Where do you go about sourcing sales talent?
BR: We’ve been using BevForce since we began. In fact, 85 percent of our employees come from BevForce. There’s no other place where the center of talent and opportunity come together quite like ForceBrands’ specialized beverage division.
FB: What are some of the ways BevStrat helps small brands be better at what they do and how they operate?
BR: BevStrat is a huge value add for small brands that don’t have access to the data we do. We use CRM software to track our sales team and use a call enter that informs our sales leads every step along the way. If you put that together, you get the creation of a systematic route. That data is then turned over to our supplier so they can follow up with calls and see where the brand has been shown. We’re putting more power in the supplier. Sure, the big guys get the big results but the Internet has made a lot of that an even playing field. The brands we work with receive all the information necessary so that they can control their own destiny.
FB: Are there any recent company successes you’d like to highlight?
BR: BevStrat was the recipient of Wine Industry Network‘s seventh annual WINnovation Awards for excellence in wine industry innovation. BevStrat also named on The Bonfort’s Wine & Spirits Journal Power 100, a ranking of the 100 most powerful, influential, and transformative individuals and trends that are making an impact on the U.S. wine industry. Other highlights include recent quarterly appointments with grocery and mass market chains. We call on BevMo and Total Beverage Solutions.
FB: Given your deep industry experience, what trends, if any, do you foresee taking shape in the alc bev world in the next 3-5 years?
BR: Canned anything is going to proliferate. Low-alcohol beverages will be more accessible, as will more natural gluten free-type goods as Americans move toward healthier, more mindful lifestyles. I think marijuana will supplant cheap brands — if you can get it from marijuana, then why drink Miller Lite? I think the country will vacillate between if pot will have a major effect or not.
FB: Looking ahead, what excites you most about the future direction of BevStrat in the changing industry?
BR: We grew over 300 percent from 2017-18 and 500 percent from 2016-17 — we continue to be on a strong growth curve. We are working with more and more suppliers that believe in outsourced sales functions because they’re not getting the attention they want or deserve. We’ve created a proven model where suppliers can take back their destinies and I think that’s going to continue. More and more brands are going have the ability to come to market.
Interested in working at BevStrat? Explore our BevForce job board for open roles.