Sell More Beverages at Retail by 'Getting Lips to Liquid'  5/30/2024

To sell more beverages at retail, you gotta "get lips to the liquid," says Michael Russo, Chief Growth Officer at Wild Bill’s Craft Beverage Co. And Wild Bill's certainly knows how to do that. For more two decades the brand has been selling its nostalgic flavors of soda from taps on portable wagons at fairs, festivals and other events such as New York's Comic Con.

Mass sampling at festivals and events

Customers would buy a 34-ounce barrel mug with the Wild Bill's logo etched onto it (and often customized with the event logo, too), fill up, and return for unlimited refills during the event. The variety of sodas includes classic favorites like Root Beer, Black Cherry, Orange Cream, and Vanilla, as well as seasonal flavors like Rocket Pop and non-boozy Mojito in the summer. Customers would then register their mug online to receive event alerts and special promotions.

However, when the pandemic shut down in-person events, Wild Bill's pivoted and launched a line of ready-to-drink beverages in cans that are now available in more than 1,300 stores. 

Driving traffic to stores

With in-person events now back in full swing, and the Wild Bill's pop-ups at 400 events each year, the brand has started leveraging these massive sampling opportunities to drive sales at retail. Brand ambassadors at these events are well-versed in which local retailers carry the RTD cans and provide coupons to drive traffic to them. In addition, since customers register their mugs online, Wild Bill's keeps them aware of new retail locations and also sends them promotions via email.

For example, Wild Bill's has pop-ups at 50 events in Ohio each year, and at these events its brand ambassadors direct customers to Jungle Jim's International Market to find the RTD cans.

In the video above, recorded at ECRM's Foodservice Session, Michael gives an overview of the company, and details on how "getting lips to liquid" at these events helps to drive sales of the RTD sodas at retail. He also discusses their plans to expand distribution at independent restaurants, so if you are a foodservice operator looking to add a bit of nostalgic flavor to your mix of beverages, you can find Wild Bill's on RangeMe or at an upcoming ECRM Beverage or Foodservice Session.

Wild Bill's taps NIQ data on RangeMe

When RangeMe started offering NielsenIQ category-level data to Premium and Pro subscribers, Russo jumped right on it, incorporating the insights into his outreach to buyers.

He layers that data on top of his RangeMe profile insights to keep on top of what's trending with buyers and consumers, and to see where he's at compared to the competition (his brand ranks in the top 10 among RangeMe subscribers in the category). In this video interview, he discusses how he taps into the data available to help grow his brand.




Joseph Tarnowski

VP Content

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