THE BOOZE BUSINESS
A while ago, a friend in the spirits business introduced me to some very interesting people developing a new product. I thought it would be worthwhile to follow their journey. One company is driving the liquid and the go-to-market efforts, while the other has developed the concept, branding and product strategy.
The latter, is a unique agency called Cops and Robbers and is run by Patricia Verdolino and Richie Beretta. They describe themselves as follows: Part Ideation House; Part Creative Studio; Not a Traditional Agency; But Agents Provocateurs.
I found them to be such a breath of fresh air as an agency that I intend to write about them in depth in my next posting. For now let’s turn to the product and its development.
Meet Kevin Mowers who owns the brand and has been instrumental in its birth as a product and liquid.
Kevin’s background is in science and engineering and he began his work life in product development in the food industry working with such companies as Con Agra, Heinz and Campbell. Along the way he got his MBA in Business Development and Marketing and decided he wanted to be an entrepreneur.
Remember Jello shots? He developed a product called Gel Shooterz, which took quite a bit of effort to manufacture. Nevertheless, the brand overcame production hurdles and was on its way when suddenly the co-packer decided to sell and the new owners had no interest. The business did not jell.
Next came a stint at Diageo in the innovation area where he worked on whiskies, gins, flavors, distillates and other lab based efforts and innovations. Then one day he decided that his skills as an innovator and marketer might be put to better use. His company, Liquid Innovations was born in 2011.
The company consults and advises clients in a wide range of businesses and also looks into new opportunities to feed its entrepreneurial efforts.
Kevin’s new product, to be launched in early 2016, is Called BOM BOM and the first-born is named Coco Mochanut(mocha-nut). Here’s how he describes it:
It’s a cream product that tastes, well, absolutely delicious. It’s slightly higher in alcohol than Rumchata – 18% AbV versus 13.75%. The product received a Gold award from a recent Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) tasting. Suggested retail price is $19.99 for a 750 ML.
Many consumers describe the taste of Rumchata as as the milk leftover after a big bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal infused with rum. BOM BOM's Coco Mochanut tastes like a liquid Mounds or Almond Joy with rum. The target audience is millennial women aged 22 to 35.
Coco Mochanut is the first of a line of products with a similar approach but different flavors such as, Chocolate Bomsicle (think Fudgsicle) and Nutty Cup (think Reese’s Peanut Butter cups).
For some, the package might appear as kiddy. But it’s based on adult fashion trends.
As Kevin puts it, the product is “built on the chocolate loving kid in all of us that’s looking for some grownup fun.”
Patricia and Richie have this to say about the packaging, “It’s a contemporary fashion look inspired by Jeremy Scott, Pharrell Williams (BBC Ice Cream) and Moschino. It’s designed with the target audience in mind.”
And, by the way, the TTB approved both the liquid and the packaging.
BOM BOM is close to launch and Kevin is moving ahead full throttle in preparation for an early 2016 kick off. As is true for all entrepreneurial new spirits product launches, the key is distribution. But, the mainstream distributors, thanks to the dwindling number and big supplier pressures, are a very hard sell. In fairness, they already have a lot on their plate so it’s understandable that they will react cautiously, if at all. Recognizing this, he is smart enough to know that he needs to start slowly, demonstrate consumer acceptance and have patience.
My advice to him is to spend whatever he can afford on product tastings where feasible and allowable. I also think the on-premise market will be very attracted to Coco Mochanut with such suggested drink ideas as the Fire Bom (with Fireball Whiskey) or Café Bom (with Patron XO Café) to name just a few.
Based on the tasting I had with my wife and friends his baby is indeed beautiful and will grow stronger each day in the market. One taste and you want to buy a bottle.
To my distributor friends and readers – want to meet the baby?