Building brands that consumers love is a timeless pursuit. For the Co-Founder and CEO of CANTEEN Spirits, Brandon Cason, it makes for an inspiring and fulfilling career. We caught up with the beverage industry veteran to learn more about his next great venture: a low-alc, ready-to-drink (RTD) canned cocktail.
Read on as we explore how his experiences in both alc and non-alc beverages inspired CANTEEN Spirits.
ForceBrands: You’re a beverage industry veteran with incredible brand building experience in both the alc and non-alc space. What do you most attribute to your success thus far? How do you identify opportunities?
Brandon Cason: I think it’s about being passionate and curious and open to what’s coming next. I never stop exploring and I believe that, at the end of the day, passion fuels success.
I always stay tuned in to trends and I lock into opportunities that excite me. Living in a city like Austin, Texas, gives me a first-hand look at what’s happening in the spirits industry and what might be next.
FB: How did your experience in marketing at Deep Eddy Vodka ultimately help shape and inspire the launch of CANTEEN Spirits?
BC: At Deep Eddy, I definitely learned a lot about the landscape of the spirits industry, no doubt. My experience helped invigorate my excitement and curiosity around innovation in the spirits space.
FB: You’re no stranger to identifying and capitalizing upon consumer trends. You co-founded Waterloo in 2017 when seltzer was gaining widespread momentum. What are some things you consider before launching a brand in an otherwise saturated category? How do you make it stand out?
BC: I focus on what’s important to the consumer and I’ve always prioritized the quality of the product and the ingredients. Great tasting products keep consumers invested in your brand. At CANTEEN Spirits, we started with CANTEEN Vodka Soda and then launched CANTINA Tequila Soda, and with every flavor we’ve focused on the consumer appetite and the quality of our product.
FB: Let’s chat about CANTEEN Spirits. What inspired you to create the brand? What makes it different from other RTD cocktails out there?
BC: I saw a desire for convenience and quality so the team and I set out to create a delicious drink with better ingredients. I think CANTEEN Spirits stands out in our commitment to better ingredients and our dedication to enjoying and celebrating an adventurous lifestyle. Whether you’re BBQing with friends, hiking, hitting the beach, or camping — we created a portable and delicious drink that is part of the adventure experience.
FB: What impact has the pandemic had on the beverage industry, specifically as it relates to changing consumer habits?
BC: The pandemic has taught us all a lot, and I really believe that people are looking to maximize their experiences and truly engage in the things that make them happy. People are excited to be outside and I know that, personally, I have so much appreciation for any chance I get to be outdoors. In that same way, we’re seeing this demand for portability. The growing RTD cocktail category means more opportunities for people to enjoy their favorite cocktails in a convenient way while still having premium ingredients. All CANTEEN products have 5 percent ABV which also meets the consumer demand for lower ABV options.
FB: It’s no secret that the RTD cocktail craze isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. What’s ahead for the category?
BC: I think there’s so much opportunity for innovation within the RTD cocktail category. One exciting evolution is that more RTD cocktails are becoming available at restaurants and bars, which has been really awesome to see.
FB: Where do you foresee your entrepreneurial journey taking you next?
BC: I’m sure I speak for many of us when I say where I am now is not where I thought I’d be two years ago, and where I’ll be in two years is likely not what I might suspect. That said, I find it inspiring to know that for the most part we always tend to surprise ourselves with what we can accomplish and I look forward to working in the industry and with a great team for many years. Building brands that consumers love is an exciting and fulfilling career and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.