In my last article Devotion Vodka founder Drew Edleman expalins how Growing the Devotion Brand on the rapidly growing Gluten Free trend and how he mixes tenacity, his personality along with solid marketing data in gaining market share. Here we find out the secret sauce that is his brand differentiator,
So What is the Secret Sauce That Makes Your Product So Different?
Devotion Vodka, which by the way is 100% corn based, teamed up with Allen Flavors(the maker of Arizona Iced Tea and the #1 privately owned flavor company) to develop a process of eliminating sugars as a flavoring agent in vodka. Many mass produced flavored vodkas available in the marketplace have been diluted by sugary flavoring agents. In lieu of sugar, Devotion uses an essence process along with natural flavor compounds to ensure its flavored vodkas maintain sugar-free attributes, while remaining 80 proof. This is obviously one of our most important partnerships.
Wait a Minute, Vodkas Have Sugar Added?
Yes AND 99% of Vodkas have added sugar and it is not on the label! Most of Vodkas have 19 to 24 packs of sugar per bottle (so with each packet of granulated sugar equaling 16 calories, that adds up over time)
Funding a startup is always a challenge. How did you overcome this obstacle?
I did my homework, as I was fortunate to own a number of bars, restaurants and nightclubs nationwide. For years, I was diligent and took the time to study what some companies were doing effectively, and it helped me understand how to operate a business more efficiently. I also came to realize how some companies were completely mismanaging their operations, and spending recklessly. I couldn't believe how quickly companies would burn through capital, without a cohesive strategy.
It's important to take risks, and gain experience from mistakes, but if you do your homework, you can take more calculated risks. I did not want to be one of the "here today, gone tomorrow" companies. I developed a comprehensive plan, surrounded myself with a team of experts, including my partner Mike Calleja (who has an extensive background in all facets of the spirits business) and since 2009, we've been executing the plan. We've grown every year since inception, and it's exciting to be a part of it all.
Also, as a businessman, I knew the importance of strategic partnerships and aligning our brand with credible Companies. Solid relationships are so important, and we have strong relationships with key distributors, flavoring companies, retail chains, etc.
What Gluten free trends did you see that validated development of Devotion Gluten Free Vodka
I've been following the gluten free trend for years, and the fact that gluten-free products continue to be one of the strongest growth categories in the food & beverage market, exceeding $4.2 billion in sales in 2012, evidenced a market opportunity. The growth of the gluten free category, combined with the health advocates' campaign to combat sugar, essentially validated Devotion Vodka as the alternative solution that consumers have long demanded. With all the dietary restrictions today, and with adult consumers more conscious about ingredients, Devotion offers a lower calorie alternative for adults that enjoy indulging in a cocktail.
Devotion was recently accepted into the GlutenFree.com resource directory, further validating our product line.
Are you executing any innovative social media programs to support the path to purchase? I am thinking of Awareness, Evaluation and Trial (first time purchase)
We are ahead of the curve, and using social media to our advantage. We don't have the marketing budgets of some of the global brands, but we are using social media effectively to support our accounts and promotions. In fact, the Devotion Vodka Facebook Page boasts the #1 Social Media Facebook page of brands in the spirits industry that are under 100K cases.
In fact, our ability to leverage social media has enabled us to truly go grassroots to generate brand awareness and a strong following promoting samplings, special events, photos and more. Social media has been a huge asset to support our marketing and promotions, as we have nearly 95,000 fans as of July 2013, which far exceeds some brands that are actually selling over 1 million cases per year.