Op-ed | Nawaf Salameh, Chairman & Founder, Alexandrion Group: What will the alcohol industry look like in the next 10 years?

Mihai Cristea 22/12/2020 | 16:49

Ten years ago I was dining with a potential partner and we were discussing about the brand he had created. I asked about the story of the beverage we were tasting. What is it about its history that he would want to grow into a story? What values does the brand carry and what’s its legacy? He blinked surprised, showed me the label, poured me a sip and said: that’s about it. In that moment I knew that it couldn’t all be just about this, even if the industry certainly looked that way, allowing and promoting anything without any critical consideration.

By Nawaf Salameh, Founding Owner & Chairman of the Board, Alexandrion Group

 

A few crises have passed since then, some financial, others social, a few political, and now one that certainly seems to be testing our limits. And all these crises changed the consumer and thus the industry begun to change in its turn. Because of education, internet, globalization, access to information, people begun to pay more attention to what they’re buying. They started to look and see beyond the label. Where is that brand produced? What of? Where are the raw materials sourced from? Who owns the brand? What are the values it promotes and holds dear? How are the factory workers treated? And all these questions transformed into decision markers, purchase criteria, key performance indicators. They showed that people needed, even demanded to know the true, real story behind the product.

I strongly believe that producers will have to meet this curiosity of the consumer and present their history, now, rather than later. The real story, not a bought one, not makeshift nor fictitious ones. It needs to be honest, not embellished but true, even with the bad chapters, because the people demand sincerity. It doesn’t matter what famous star talks about your brand, if your own employees don’t recommend you and don’t take pride in their work. The same goes for the design: irrelevant if the raw materials are not of the best quality and responsibly sourced. Your brand identity is a mere trinket if what you say is not what you do. All these combined push us to produce high end, high quality goods, to be mindful of the details that really matter and win the trust of the consumers.

As for the next ten years, they will be marked by behavioural changes induced by the pandemics. I believe that a lot of us will turn our attention to our families and the associated consumption patterns. This will translate into a shift from white alcoholic beverages to dark ones because it’s more fitting to enjoy family stories over a glass of red wine, or brandy, instead of vodka or martini.

Another behavioural change I foresee relates to the renewed care for our communities and, consequently, the fact that we will make choices thinking of its wellbeing. Which implies that even if online shopping will boom, alcoholic beverages sales will mostly happen in boutiques, neighbourhood shops, small shop chains all of which will see a steady development. On top of that, the local segment will also grow, meaning that local brands will benefit the most.

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