Each month, ForceBrands partners with The Tasting Panel magazine. The Tasting Panel offers an insider’s look at the tastemakers and trendsetters in today’s growing beverage industry. From winemaker profiles, to brands that are the bartenders’ best friend, this monthly publication gets up close and personal with today’s influencers and explores the products they love the most. With a readership of 85,000 professionals across all levels of the industry, The Tasting Panel maintains its position as a leading authoritative voice in the beverage industry. This article originally appeared in the June 2020 issue of The Tasting Panel.

As the Director of Sales for ForceBrands, the leading recruiting firm for consumer brands, Rachel Doueck oversees the company’s spirits, wine, and beer division. As one of the company’s first recruiters, Rachel knows that people are a company’s greatest asset. She works to help build the teams behind some of the world’s most recognized and emerging alcoholic beverage brands. We caught up with her to tap into her knowledge and expertise of beverage industry hiring and how that’s evolved during these challenging times.

Q: How has the industry changed since COVID-19?
A: While COVID-19 has had a severe economic impact globally, we are incredibly fortunate to be in an industry that has largely remained recession-proof. This is not to say that the industry is not feeling the effects of the current climate, but it’s learning to adjust to this new normal. And there are some positive narratives being written in the alc bev world. Off-premise retail and direct-to-consumer (DTC) sectors have surged since mid-March. Many consumers are buying products in bulk, a departure from what we’ve typically seen. While these may not be premium products, as consumers are becoming more conservative, they’re still stockpiling so sales are strong.

Q: Given the current climate, what should beverage companies be doing now in terms of designing their team structures to set themselves up for success later?
A: Beverage companies need to consider the long-term impact of consumer behavior changes as that will dictate and drive the future of the industry. They should start prioritizing their need for a sufficient DTC route to market if they don’t already have one. This means ramping up their marketing and sales teams in order to effectively manage and amplify it. The need for cost accounting and specific finance roles have risen in demand to help keep pace with the economic impact of COVID-19. Additionally, if the volume of purchases continues, inventory levels will need to increase. This means ramping up from a supply chain perspective. The health and the safety of all employees will continue to remain paramount for companies. They should ensure they have proper teams in place from a quality assurance, health, and safety perspective.

Q: What roles are companies actively hiring for? Where are the opportunities?
A: Over the course of these past few months, we’ve seen an increase in marketing, operations, and finance roles. Many companies with established e-commerce platforms that have become critical revenue generators are also actively hiring.

Q: How can beverage companies tap into future growth opportunities post-pandemic?
A: The future of the industry is still a big question mark for companies of all sizes. Future growth opportunities will rely largely on the consumer — their financial impact and behavioral decisions — as well as actionable steps companies should take now to come out stronger on the other side of this crisis. Companies that remain agile and reevaluate their growth strategy now will be better positioned for long-term success. This means becoming digital-first, strengthening DTC and e-commerce channels, and optimizing team structures so that they’re as high performing as possible in this climate.

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