Beam Suntory, one of the largest producers of distilled beverages in the world, has been working to shift its image to higher-end spirits. Its popular Knob Creek bourbon has sported a new look for the past three years, with an updated label design that has brought back its nine-year age statement, and a new line of 12-year and 15-year versions of the whisky. While prices once ranged from $25 to $50 per bottle, prices are now anywhere from $36 to $200. Following the company’s conscious efforts to step into the higher-end market, international sales reportedly rose 11% in 2021.
CEO Albert Baladi said in an interview: “Two years ago, in 2020, we weren’t as affected as a lot of companies, so the bounce back isn’t as strong as some of the other numbers that you’re still seeing, but still I think double-digits against 2019 is quite powerful.” Baladi continued to explain that the spirits industry generally does well even in times of economic crisis, and that raising prices encourages the company to continue upgrading its beverages. An advantage has been that customers are less sensitive to price hikes made to counterbalance inflation, as they’re pleased to pay more for higher-end drinks.
Ready to tap into another beverage line, Beam Suntory has announced plans to expand its ready-to-drink cocktail line and has partnered with Sam Adams brewer Boston Beer. Although unexpected, this trendy market line has proven lucrative and ranked as the fasting growing of any spirit category, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. Beam Suntory’s premixed brands Sauza and Truly Vodka will be released this spring.
Apple Inc., the mega consumer-tech company, will be reopening 25 of its stores in the United States during the week of May 18. This is a continuation of a re-opening process that is beginning slowly at Apple, and all over the country, to bring commerce back and get the economy back in gear. As of mid-May, Apple has re-opened about 20% of its stores worldwide.
The innovative company closed all its stores outside of Greater China in mid-March in response to the coronavirus pandemic that was wreaking havoc throughout the world.
“Our commitment is to reopen our stores when we are confident the environment is safe,” wrote Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s head of retail, on the company’s website.
Although the stores will re-open, they will not go back to business the way it was before the pandemic started. Stores will limit the number of customers in at any one time; social distancing—maintaining a distance of at least 2 meters between customers—will be enforced, and some stores will have only curbside or storefront pickup.
Apple openings began last week with five stores in the US. Customers and employees were required to wear masks and have their temperatures checked before entering the stores. The company has 271 stores in the United States and 239 outside the US. It was reported that Apple will also open 10 stores in Italy, beginning on May 19.
Use technology to maintain contact with clients. Video platforms should be utilized as much as possible to offer a face-to-face personal interaction. While working remotely may mean that things are a bit more casual, it is important to keep things professional.
The need to maintain decorum and professionalism notwithstanding, it is also important to be genuine with clients. They want to know that their money is in good hands, but they also want to have a sincere conversation about life. Start and end every conversation with a client by discussing their wellbeing. Ask how they are managing and feeling. Give them the assurance they need. Show them that you care about their physical, mental, and financial health.
When things are uncertain it is tempting to switch to preservation mode. We have a fiduciary responsibility to do our best for those who are already clients; we may not have the bandwidth to grow our business. But as we focus on the clients we have, we should also maintain business contacts and relationships that can help our business in the future. Look for opportunities in various sectors and actively pursue leads.
Clients are worried about a lot of things right now. It is the job of financial planners and economic advisors to ensure that money is not an additional concern. The current health concerns coupled with economic uncertainties present people with two extremely basic fears: being alone and broke. Now is not the time to overwhelm clients with statistics and trends. Listen closely to what the clients are saying and what they feel most comfortable with at this time. This is unchartered territory for everyone. Every individual, business owner, team leader, and industry specialist is figuring out how to navigate these uncertain times. In the money management field, being attentive, genuine, forthcoming, and caring is the best business practice right now.
Shopping this holiday season is doing very well, thank you, with a bit of a boost from our ubiquitous cellular devices, especially our phones. Last Saturday, the weekend after Thanksgiving, saw $3.6 billion in sales for small businesses in one day alone, from cellphones.
According to Adobe Analytics, a tracker of sales online, that figure is higher by a generous 18% over last year. And if things keep going the way they have been, Adobe says we can expect almost 15% growth over last year’s holiday season sales. Small businesses alone earned $68.2 billion in November of this year.
Smartphone sales are way up, says Adobe. Last Saturday smartphone revenue accounted for 41.2% of all e-commerce revenue that day. That represents growth of 22% since 2018. So, what are people buying like hotcakes this year? Some of the top-selling products include “Frozen 2” companion toys to go with the Disney movie recently released. “Madden 20” and “FIFA 20” video games, of course, and more devices like Amazon Fire TV and Apple AirPods.
What can we expect from Cyber Monday? Adobe says we can anticipate a record-breaking $9.4 billion in online sales, an ecstatic increase of 19% since 2018.
The candy business truly booms for Halloween. It is expected that this year over 160 million Americans will be spending about 2.6 billion dollars just on candy for this arguably bizarre sort of holiday. This story does not consider the other accessories one needs to ‘celebrate’ this day in style, such as: costumes ($3.2 billion), decorations ($2.7 billion), and party paraphernalia.
Kids bring home from their “trick-or-treating” adventure an average of between 3,500 and 7,000 calories worth of candy. If they at all that loot, a 100-pound child would need to walk for 44 hours or play full-court basketball for 14.5 hours to work of all those extra calories. Parents might want to think about the size of the loot bag they send with their little ones. One pillowcase can hold a mind-boggling almost 1,700 pieces of candy. Better off with a sandwich bag.
About half of the US population, or 163 million people, celebrate Halloween, and 95% of the entire population of 327 million go out and buy candy.
Another way to look at all the candy that is purchased during Halloween is to imagine “six Titanics” worth of candy in weight, which would come out to over 300,000 tons. That’s a lot of pillowcases. That is an unbelievable 2 pounds of candy for every American, man, woman and child. In addition to all this candy, which includes candy corn kernels, lollypops, and other sugary treats, 90 million pounds of chocolate are also purchased by consumers during the week of the Halloween sugar storm. An no wonder. Also, chocolate was the favorite Halloween treat among 70% of respondents, followed by candy corn, chewy candy and gummy candy.
As incredible as all this candy consumption sounds during Halloween, even more candy is sold in the US during Easter.