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Alcohol Industry Blog

Wednesday, September 30, 2015  
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WebHeader-FallMeet Arthur Shapiro, an alcohol industry blogger with 25 years of history in the alcohol industry. Shapiro is based in New York City and has an opinionated storytelling eye on an industry that has changed dramatically in recent decades. He worked for Seagram's - before it went out of business - and is now a consultant. Shapiro isn't beholden to anyone (including advertisers) and his opinions are his own. He started his alcohol industry blog in 2010. Here's our recent IABR chat with alcohol industry blogger Shapiro: Q: Why did you start a blog about the booze business? A: I felt there was an interest in looking at the industry in a fun, storytelling type of way. I tell stories designed to be entertaining as well as informative. People in the trade publishing industry have to watch their Ps and Qs. But I don't. Q: What are the things about the alcohol industry that annoy you the most? A: What annoys me the most about the industry is the consolidation taking place. There are fewer distributors and more powerful distributors. In New York, some beer distributors are wholesaling spirits. It's bothersome. The suppliers have a few people running the majority of the business. It's not a good thing. Now, the consumer is looking for small batches and craft distilleries - or small entrepreneurial efforts all over the country. Q: What are some good trends in the industry? A: The movement toward better quality and fewer mass-produced products. Consumers want to move away from big-box products. Q: What do you think of the 21st Amendment challenges taking place across the country? A: The 21st Amendment is an important safeguard. State governments need to be regulating alcohol, not the federal government. I think the three-tier system is an important part of our system. I don't give a damn what the big boys say. Q: What do you think of the big box explosion in alcohol sales? A: For 20 years, if not longer, the big-box stores have been taking over the small business operator. That's unfortunate. There's no way a 5,000-square-foot store can compete with a Sam's Club. Q: Give us an example of the latest trends. A: In New York state, small distributors have sprung up in Brooklyn. Governor Cuomo has said if you use 51 percent of your ingredients from the state, you're fast tracked for a permit and become a wholesaler and distributor for the brands you manufacture. Q: What should booze brands be doing these days to sell their brands? A: Marketing people are spending too much money on broadcast and print. They should be spending more money on social media. Despite a younger cohort, they're stuck in old school thinking. Q: What brand is doing a good job in social media? A: Southern Comfort. They're smart enough not to do it just on TV. Their ads on YouTube, for example. Q: What's your biggest complaint about media coverage of alcohol issues? A: The mainstream media doesn't understand the nuances. Let's face it, the reason there are vertical publications and blogs is because the mass media is just looking for a soundbite. Q: What do you think about Lifeline laws like the one in Indiana? A: As an industry, people who make their living on alcohol sales need to be moral, safe and smart in these messages. In a general kind of way, anything that develops a more responsible drinker is a good thing. We don't want a lot of binge drinkers like in the UK. For more from Shapiro, follow his alcohol industry blog here.

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