*Note: For purposes of brand anonymity, I will refer to the brand as “the Company” throughout my reflection as I seek permission to use the name of the brand.
The Company is an up-and-coming bourbon and rye startup distiller located in Central Texas. They have won several blind tasting awards for their whiskey, and are currently beginning to infiltrate several different markets all across the United States. Most recently, for example, they just entered the New York distribution market. The Company is a woman owned and woman distilled company, which is very special within an industry that is particularly male dominated. My experience helping out with the Company exemplifies many of the skills I have been learning in my I&E courses, including the importance of creating a strong brand for a product.
Over the past few summers, I have done work for the Company when I was back home in Austin. However, one of the larger and most valuable experiences I had was with one of my larger projects where I collected market research for the company. At this time, the Company was in the process of redesigning their own tasting room, a task which encompassed both the physical space as well as the experience. In order to learn and compile as much as I could about the spirits industry in the state of Texas, I cold called every distillery in Texas to collect information on their own tasting room experience. This included understanding their pricing, tasting room dimensions, full menu offered, merchandise, special events, whether they allowed family members under twenty-one, etc. I then compiled this information into an excel sheet, which was later distributed to the team. Not only was this experience very helpful in understanding a very niche industry, I worked towards becoming proficient in commonly used business tools like Excel. In addition to the market research, I had the opportunity to help with the blending process of the barrel proof whiskey, a meticulous activity where water is added drop by drop to the highly concentrated alcohol. As I reflect on my great experience, I have learned a lot about what it takes to be successful in the alcohol business. In addition, I began to truly understood the amount of research that is necessary in order to make a very educated economical decision, especially like something such as building a tasting room and designing it in order to maximize profits for the business. Many times, this information is only accessible by means in which going out of your comfort zone is necessary, such as with cold calling and placing yourself in awkward and unfamiliar situations. I learned to ask the difficult questions and do so with confidence, while at the same time learning boundaries appropriate in business. Although there were times where other distilleries failed to answer my questions or provide any information not available on their website, I had to become extremely resourceful in scouring the internet and available resources for the information I needed.
Below I have attached the list of the Texan distilleries I focused my market research on, as well as a document which provides an outline of the key criteria I used in order to shape this research.