How Breakthru Identifies Potential in Emerging Brands

According to Oppe, there are three umbrella elements that make a brand stand out and indicate they are ready to partner with Breakthru: product, purpose and people, says Jenna Oppe, National Director, Emerging Brands at Breakthru Beverage Group.

According to Deloitte's 2022 Global Marketing Trends report, consumers want to support brands that represent them and their values, with 57% being more loyal to brands that commit to addressing social inequities.

Seeing this trend in the beverage alcohol industry, especially among upstart products, Breakthru Beverage Group launched the Trident division, its emerging beverage portfolio and brand incubator. Trident assesses not only the product itself but also a brand's purpose and other critical elements when considering a partnership that can often mean skyrocketing success for new products.

"Brands often come to us at a stage in their growth where they risk getting lost, which is why we launched Trident almost seven years ago," said Oppe. "Because of the way we collaborate with brands, we are able to work with them to develop a growth strategy that targets the right consumers and also fits with both their operational capacity and financial resources, putting them on the path to new, sustained growth."

The Trident team is approached by hundreds of brands each year, accepting a limited number into their evaluation process and ultimately onboarding a select few new brand partners. Blue Run Whiskey, Mijenta Tequila and Onda Tequila Seltzers are just a few examples of recent Trident partners who have achieved tremendous growth in competitive, high-growth categories.

First and foundational is the product itself, its quality and how well it has performed since inception. New brands should start with a must-taste flavor, eye-catching packaging and a competitive price point. The Trident team then also wants to understand performance-based data—Where did the brand start, and is it doing well in its market of origin? Does the product have a unique place in the category? Is it profitable?

"We ask a number of questions when evaluating a product, since our role is to enter the lifecycle at just the right time with a good expansion plan that will deliver results for them and our customer partners," said Oppe. "Brands don't have to have it all figured out when they get to us, but they should have at least considered these items and be prepared to work with us to grow and take their business to the next level."

As Gen Z comes of drinking age and begins to evaluate beverage alcohol brands, purpose and mission continue to grow in importance—the Deloitte report also showed that 94% of Gen Z expect companies to take a stand on social issues, and 90% say they are more willing to purchase products they see as beneficial to society. Brands must be good corporate citizens and contribute positively to the community or social causes to keep younger consumers' attention. They must also be able to effectively tell the brand's story and share their social impact work online and on social media, which is critical to building relationships with consumers.

Breakthru values brands with a strong purpose as well, and intentionally seeks out brands with diverse ownership or those targeting diverse consumer segments. Each brand's "why" is also important when determining a good supplier-distributor culture fit. Whether it is to disrupt a category or product offering or to serve a niche consumer segment, the Trident team wants to know what makes the brand relevant to consumers and stand out in crowded categories.

"We really are an extension of a brand, additional resources on the ground to build the brand and help it grow," explained Drew Levinson, VP, Business Development, Emerging Brands. "We're here to help brands take themselves to the next level, offering a strategic approach and thoughtful counsel about where a brand is and where it aspires to go."

The last critical element the team considers when evaluating a potential partnership is the people behind the brand. How does their passion for the brand show up in their work? Do they have a compelling story that consumers can get behind? Are they willing to roll up their sleeves and work with Breakthru to grow the brand together?

"Trident is most effective when a brand has gotten as far as it can go with a high-quality product, a great team and a lot of passion, and then we can come in with our in-market and brand building experience and route-to-market strategy to help take them even further," added John Oliver, National Director, Trade Marketing, Emerging Brands. "If the product, purpose and people elements are in place before they get to us, there is a lot we can do to help them grow."

Cultivating a diverse portfolio rich in innovative and flagship brands is the foundation of Breakthru's growth, from organic growth in existing markets to expanding its footprint through mergers and acquisitions. The Trident portfolio is currently home to a group of high-performing, high-growth, profitable brands across a broad spectrum of categories. As the company reaches a wider variety of consumers across North America, the Trident portfolio is a critical part of staying connected to the latest trends while lifting up deserving and diverse brands.