The Ready-to-Drink category ended in the first tie of the 2021 Brand Battle tournament. Post Meridiem Spirit Company and Duvernois Creative Spirits’ Romeo’s Gin RTDs were named the winners of the category and will move on to the Championship event on September 14.
Post Meridiem Spirit Company is the first line of cocktails in 100ml cans. Founded in 2017 and launched in 2019, the Atlanta-based company crafts and self-manufactures its cocktails using only authentic ingredients including distilled spirits, imported liqueurs and 100% real lime juice.
Duvernois Creative Spirits is based in Montreal and were founded in 2010, Romeo’s Gin, launched in 2016, is not a brand with a mission, but a mission with a brand. To support urban street artists, they feature their artwork on the bottles and cans of their gin and RTD products. This contemporary brand prides itself on pushing boundaries to be bold and creative.
To learn more about the brands and their success stories, and to inspire others, Michael Bilello, WSWA’s Senior Vice President of communications and marketing, as well as WSWA Access craft program manager, sat down with Andrew Rodbell the co-founder of Post Meridiem Sprit Company and Stéphane Rochefort, the Executive Vice President of Duvernois Creative Spirits.
MICHAEL BILELLO: Stéphane, tell us about your brand and your plans for expansion.
STÉPHANE ROCHEFORT (DUVERNOIS): Our company is Duvernois Creative Spirits and Romeo's Gin is our core brand. Duvernois Creative Spirits was founded in 2010 and we launched the gin in 2016.
Back in 2015 we only had a vodka in our portfolio. It was pretty successful…But we saw a bigger opportunity within a the gin category. It was really booming in multiple markets, like Spain and the UK. Even before knowing which recipe and which botanicals we would use, it was all about speaking a universal language – something that would allow us to become globally local. And that is art.
Now we work with different artists to bring their work on our packaging, both gin and RTD, but also to showcase them in multiple marketing initiatives.
We finished the last year with sales of 120,000 cases. And as we look at our forecast, we plan on doubling that number in the next two years, with U.S. introduction, but also with new line extensions. We're expanding our gin portfolio and our RTD portfolio as well…to really capture a U.S. audience and really make both categories (RTDs and gin) grow.
MB: Andrew, can you tell us about your RTD cocktails and why you decided to enter the 2021 Brand Battle?
ANDREW RODBELL (POST MERIDIEM): We’re based in Atlanta. We created the first line of cocktails in novel 100ml cans. The cocktails are recognizable including a Margarita, Gimlet, Mai Tai, Daiquiri and Old Fashioned. The ingredients are exactly what you would get at a bar. We are proud to be delivering on the promise of making authentic ingredient cocktails available anywhere, anytime without compromise.
I just love competitions and getting our name out there; I love more people sampling and trying our product. Also, I really value the wholesalers that we get to work with. While I left corporate America to be my own boss and do things my own way, this industry requires collaboration. You have to work really well with your wholesaling partners and with your retailing partners to get to the consumer. I value this competition to be able to tell our story and to get to connect with people in the different tiers.
MB: Stéphane, what do you see as the most important part of the relationship between a supplier and wholesaler?
SR: For me, the key word is “values.” We have our set of values. Finding a fit with an importer…(and further down the road, distributors) who shares the same values is so key, so important. They must also understand our plan and our vision, which is pretty disruptive and pretty unique. We believe that the best way to sell the product sometimes it's not to talk about the product, so there's a real depth to our strategy and meaning. And this is something that's really key for the importers and distributors to understand.
MB: Andrew, can you speak about your experience during Brand Battle? What piece of feedback did you receive from the wholesaler judges that you think is valuable to other emerging brands in this category?
AR: I really appreciated their questions. They understand the category and how complex it is and how fast it is growing. Frankly, they understand how many players there are. From my perspective, the questions were all hinting on the same thing: Differentiation.
Differentiation was something we thought through as we built our company. Everything from our package size to our authentic ingredients to our price point to how to be different on shelf. As this category grows and as awareness of this category grows, I want to make sure we're seen as innovators and differentiated within the RTD space.
MB: Stéphane, you mentioned the focus your brand has on urban street art and working with various artists. Can you talk about that aspect of your brand identity?
SR: We're way more than an RTD and gin company. Whatever we do, how we activate it, the brand is alive – it’s constantly evolving, constantly challenging itself. We’re paving the way through our marketing strategies, arriving with new artists, bringing new artwork on the cans, allows us to really grow our audience. I think that's really what makes us stand out. There are other brands which use art or collaborate with artists, but for us this is at the core and the basics of everything we've done.
MB: Andrew, can you speak about being an entrepreneur in this category? What components or relationships make your brand successful?
AR: As an entrepreneur I value hearing other people's stories and value seeing how people develop their products in different ways. I am always learning. Both in this competition and in the real world, the product ultimately speaks for itself and defines success. I can tell our story all day long, but success is that magic moment when someone actually tastes the product and they light up. We believe that taste is king. If we can create something that tastes good, then we know that we're going to start to win fans, both among consumers and the trade.
MB: Stéphane, you entered Brand Battle for two different categories. What opportunity did you see with this unique event?
SR: When I saw the Brand Battle email come in, I think the same day I applied…It was an opportunity to really see where we are in the market; to see tremendous entrepreneurs…do fantastic stuff and really try to understand the market and force us to accelerate things.