Pandemic could be ‘great leveller’ for small brands

28th May, 2020 by Melita Kiely

Small brands have an opportunity to use the Covid-19 crisis as a “great leveller” to compete against bigger players, a leading distiller believes.

Westland-Distillery-barley

Westland Distillery is based in Seattle, US

Master distiller and co-founder of US-based Westland Distillery Matt Hofmann was speaking during the World Whisky Forum’s inaugural World Whisky Talk yesterday (27 May), which focused on issues facing the whisky industry as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said smaller brands could use the time people are spending at home to their advantage, whereas in the ‘normal’ world, big brands would have the upper hand due to larger budgets.

Hofmann said: “I think one of the opportunities here, which I think we all have to think about otherwise it all gets depressing, this is a great leveller. You can have the biggest budgets in the world, and have amazing above-the-line plans. But right now, all of it’s changing.

“We don’t know what the answer is. We know there’s more live tastings, more direct-to-consumer happening, so at the moment there’s an opportunity for smaller brands to prove themselves by being clever.

“The great thing about Zoom is it’s free. To fly around the world and do tastings with people is expensive when you’re a small company.

“But to do it online, there’s an opportunity, an opportunity for smaller brands to adapt and push forward. If they don’t adapt, they’ll fall off.”

The World Whisky Talk: Coronavirus was a 90-minute panel discussion that took place via Zoom. Speakers included Stephen Teeling, sales and marketing director at the Teeling Whiskey Company; Anthony Wills, founder and managing director of Kilchoman Distillery; Kristiane Sherry, head of content at Atom Group; and Miika Lipiäinen, CEO of Finland’s Kyrö Distillery Company, to name just a few. The discussion was moderated by Becky Paskin, whisky and spirits writer, consultant and founder of Our Whisky.

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