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Competitive Product Diversification Lessons From Vodka: A Guide

Food and beverage manufacturers are always looking for the next big “thing” to create a breakthrough within the industry. Trends sell, and manufacturers must keep their fingers on the pulse of culture, preferences, and consumer purchase profiles to understand how exactly they can strategize their next big launch. One of the greatest examples of this lies in one of America’s oldest imported drinks: Vodka. 

Below, we’re exploring what vodka can teach the average manufacturer and distributor about product diversification and expansion, and how to apply those lessons in daily workflows.

A history of vodka in the food and beverage industry 

Vodka became popularized in the United States in the mid to late 1800s. While the first distillery would not open until the early 1900s, vodka soon became a well-known mixer and a favorite among Americans looking for their next great craze. Though the pervading assumption exists that Russia supplies most if not all of the world’s vodka, this is simply untrue. There are many American vodka distilleries that have since launched and remained over the decades, including SKYY, Smirnoff, and more. Today, vodka is loved for its ability to mix and mingle as a refreshing, delightfully tonic-like tasting mixer, or to simply stand on its own in shot form. 

What can vodka teach manufacturers about differentiation? 

Below are a few lessons that food and beverage manufacturers can learn from vodka’s rise and plateau in the United States: 

While the “same” is good, differentiation is better 

Before the rise of artificially flavored vodka and mix-ins, vodka stood alone as a reliable classic in nearly every bar in America. Distilleries had built their reputation on quality, purity of product, and overall experience as a vendor. However, little to no improvement was made in the taste of vodka. It was reliable, dependable, and “same,” which would be good in most cases. 

However, the American palate evolved. People wanted more, sooner. They also wanted trendier, tastier, and more adventurous drinks. While developing such a classic product ensured distilleries would have a steady stream of customers, it didn’t necessarily ensure their scalability or growth. 

The first, and perhaps the most primary lesson that we should take from vodka’s trendline in American subculture, is that growth requires differentiation, uniqueness, and some form of novelty. Appealing and understanding customer profiles and differentiating recipes and offerings based on that is a way to instantly connect with your customers, and help to prepare for your next phase of expansion. 

Decentralization in structure is key for success amid volatility 

Moving to present-day, vodka still remains a hot topic in the food and beverage industry. It also has caused additional turbulence in the supply chain due to Russia’s recent outbursts, and the subsequent bans and product restrictions that followed. As President Biden restricted the import of Russian vodkas throughout the duration of the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, the beverage manufacturing industry began to feel the strain in an entirely new way: product restriction. 

Traditionally, vodka is the product of fermented grain, such as wheat. Today, as imports from Ukraine slowed due to the ongoing war, there is widespread and growing concern about food restrictions and shortages — even being confirmed by President Biden himself in a recent address. 

Manufacturers can take this as a note of encouragement to find and develop a localized structure for production and sourcing needs. Relying on distributors of raw materials that are too many links “apart” in the global chain can lead to significant disruptions. It also allows companies the disadvantage of little time to react and pivot. That’s why working within a decentralized system is the best way to preemptively protect your import system, and enhance your brand’s workflow and management system from the inside. 

How to support your food and beverage manufacturing business in 2022 

If you’re looking for a new way to support your food and beverage manufacturing and distribution system in 2022, consider implementing a tailored ERP solution that can suit the needs of your organization. Inecta has continued to lead the industry for over 20 years and has created a single, sleek, and centralized cloud-based solution that you can use as an end-to-end management system for your business. 

With Inecta, you can engage with our user-friendly dashboard and get a bird’s eye view of your organizational needs. You can manage recipe creation and management, distribution, fleet-based tasks, and manufacturing management processes through a single platform that is accessible to every team member you need. 

Our system is supported by Microsoft and offers you the ability to integrate with platforms of your choice. Our knowledgeable customer service experts can walk you through the initial onboarding experience, and help answer any questions that your team may have. We’ve helped thousands of businesses just like yours to take advantage of a tailored cloud-based ERP solution for their food and beverage business. For more information, please visit our website at www.inecta.com

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