Using Government to Weed Out Competitors

In states throughout the country, beverage distributors are stepping into the political ring and in every case the opponent is the same: competition. Since prohibition, distributors have had the U.S. government in their corner, forcing beverage producers to go through them in order to get their products onto shelves. It almost makes sense then that distributors’ response to the threat of new competitors entering the market is not to offer better services, but to lobby the government to try and keep them out.

Distributors Should Welcome New Products on the Market

In Virginia, both wine and beer distributors came out against Governor Bob McDonnell’s proposal to privatize liquor sales in the state (to read more about the proposal see my articles here and here and here). Though they don’t say it, their reasons are obvious: Beer and wine distributors don’t want any more products available on store shelves that would divert customers from their products.

In California, as reported last week by Huffington Post, the California Beer and Beverage Distributors Association (CBBA) came out against the idea of legalizing marijuana in that state. Again, though they don’t say it, it’s pretty obvious that the reason beer distributors fear legalization is because they believe the availability of marijuana will result in fewer beer drinkers.

But evidence may suggest that beer and wine distributors should support the increased availability of a multitude of refreshments. According to research from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), 70 percent of spirits drinkers also consume wine and evidence suggests they often purchase these items at the same time (anecdotal evidence indicates that about 50 percent make dual purchases).  It makes perfect sense if someone is planning a party or gathering that they would purchase at one time all the refreshments their guests might want.

Having liquor next to the wine in a store or pot on a shelf near the beer won’t stop beer and wine drinkers from picking up their favorite bottles. It just makes it more likely that liquor and/or marijuana consumers will purchase one of these other beverages when shopping for their favorite refreshment.