Who is Lovejoy United and why do I care?
Lovejoy United is a small-business accelerator focused on small beer- and cider manufacturers. A turnkey solution for small brewers to bring their unique products to market, Lovejoy United maintains a network of retail outlets which support craft beer.
Our job is to get your products to market and to market you like the newest, hottest band. Your newest beer is the single. And we’re the record label. We’re taking a chance on you. And you are taking a chance on us. (The analogy ends there, though: you’re not going to owe us $400,000 after your tour. But you may owe us some beer due to our successes in marketing you.) You see, we plan on keeping you really busy.
And the busier you get, the less time you have to distribute. Hiring a distributor like us is a win-win. If you have access to four times the market immediately by hiring us, then whatever margin we cost you still nets you ahead (provided you can keep up with demand!).
Lastly, it is our plan to help you with what to brew when and how much. And if you have a capacity problem, we’re here to help. We plan on solving that issue (that admittedly, we created in the first place) for you as well with rental capacity.
Why should I use you instead of self-distribute?
Did you get into this to schlep kegs on your lunchbreak? Or did you get into this to make great beer? Here’s the thing, not only are we willing to do the literal heavy lifting, but we are an aggregator for the retailers. A lot of retailers may be willing to deal with multiple one-off brewers, but the vast majority want to deal with as few people as possible. It’s their job to sell beer; spending several hours with individual meetings on a weekly basis isn’t their job. And shouldn’t you be brewing anyway? We have another couple of orders for you to fill…
Additionally, as a label, we have marketing ideas, schwag, consumers, a hot brand, and multiple outlets for you. You can brew, and we can take care of the drinking public, party planning, weddings that need kegs, pop-up beer stores, bottle shops, bars, specialty beer taps, special events, concerts, traffic jams, and all the other stuff we’re going to do for you.
Why shouldn’t I just use a big guy, like Columbia or General?
You may as well advertise in the yellow pages. You think we’re slave drivers with all our demands on your product. They won’t even touch small brewers. Plus, how are you going to stand out in a catalogue 150 breweries deep?
We are going to give you the level of care you need as a small brewer. And we plan on growing with you. Business is about relationships, and we want to foster the craft brewing. Depending on your aims, you may outgrow us. That’s fine. But until then, it is our goal to provide you as much supply and demand data as possible, help you scale up, and make sure that the right customers and retailers know about you. Simply put, you can’t be in multiple places at once and still brew. And shouldn’t you be brewing another batch right now?
The bigger guys have a bigger reach, but that reach is too big for your capacity. We are willing to spin this in a way that you’re going to come out ahead and give you the care and data you need to continue your phenomenal growth in this crazy/fun market of craft brewing.
What happens first when I sign up?
We will meet with you to feel out what you have, where you want to go, and where you’re coming from. We will want to get at your story as to why you’re special.
Then we will devise some marketing strategies and feel out a pilot for where we think your products will be best positioned. We will then set up the machine to begin pimping your product.
And finally, with any new brews/labels, we will work to up the branding to version 2.0, where we will co-brand with you. This is when you get recognised as a labelmate with the other brewers in our network and you will start to get invitations to our exclusive parties, where you can meet and exchange ideas with the other brewers, mingle with taste-testing consumers, and meet/train bar staff.
How long am I committed? What kind of commitment is involved?
Each distribution agreement will be somewhat unique, however, generally speaking, we prefer a one-year commitment with our producers so as to have an opportunity to complete a campaign for each major season.
Can I still keep my existing bar accounts?
Yes, although we will take over servicing those accounts in the territory agreed upon in the distribution agreement. You have product to brew! Focus!
What if I get more orders than I can fill (short term)?
We offer supply chain management consulting support to our labels, meaning we help plan for this certainty. We will do our best to manage that with the consumer and set expectations.
How can you help me expand?
There are a couple ways we handle this. Firstly, relationships: in order to sell your product, you need an outlet. We’re in the business to have relationships with consumer outlets. And they want to minimise their interactions to the most profitable. Meeting with individual brewers is time consuming and defies the purpose of the three-tiered distribution system set up by the government.
Secondly, we have the data and take that very seriously. We will give you access to your sales data (as well as label-wide, anonymous data about how we’re all doing as a whole. We will work with you to try to minimise waste in your production and maximise the throughput of your most successful items. We have a background in manufacturing and supply-chain management, as well as reporting, so believe that this background will help you hone your production plans. We will work with you as a partner to provide you the necessary data to really project and sort out when, what, and how much you need to produce.
Lastly, we have a plan for rental capacity, so that when you exceed your capacity demands, we can help you out in the interim. It will be a short-term thing so that you can find/procure more capacity, but it will be a help when you’re pinched for capacity.
What are the risks that come with signing a distribution agreement? Will I lose money by signing a distribution agreement?
The risk of signing a distribution agreement is that someone has exclusive rights to sell your brews within the designated territory. What’s the risk of getting married? If someone has another offer, and you’re married to us, well, you have to say no. There’s a slight difference: we play by territory rules (like the ‘area code arrangement’), so whatever happens in Vegas, we guess, stays in Vegas. Or Salem. Or Tacoma. That’s all you. Or a different distributor.
The idea behind signing a distribution agreement is a win-win. On the per-barrel metric, sure, you’ll ‘lose’ money, but you will gain time by having more throughput and ability to do your specialty: brewing a fantastic product. In the aggregate, the percentage Lovejoy United takes will result in more product being sold, more data and feedback coming to you, and more value throughout the supply chain that you are the headwaters to.
What if I want to do my own branding?
Can we work together on this? Branding is important. And we want to work with you on that. If you already have a strong brand, we’re not going to dissuade you from capitalising on that success. But ultimately, we do want to position you, and therefore us, for success. Again, like in a marriage, there is compromise.
What happens when I make a new product?
Do let us know! There’s this whole process with the TTB that you have to deal with, and at that point, it’s probably wise to meet up with us and we can talk about a launch, about capacity on both our sides, about market demand for like products, and a plan for how we can make this as successful as possible.
We like to think of new product lines as ‘hit singles’, and we want your new product to be a hit! It's time to rock!!
What does a product launch include?