Brand Performance is Judged by Instantaneous Retail SalesWe were shocked to find out that retailers were quick to discontinue our brand if it didn’t move immediately! We thought they would allow a few months for shoppers to get used to seeing it, then they try it, come back and buy it again. We thought shoppers would tell their friends about the new great product they discovered and their friends would buy it. And we thought 4 -6 months was a reasonable amount of time to allow a new retail brand to gain traction.

We were wrong! Retail buyers all wanted instant sales or they would discontinue the product. Why? Because they had bills to pay! They had to pay all the overhead on the shelf space every day (labor, rent, power, insurance, cleaning, and maintenance) whether or not our brand sold.

They’d say, “We know, pretty much in the first few weeks, whether a brand is going to perform or not.” Their expectations on rapid performance could only be realized if the brand was already popular in their particular store’s location. This meant that any new brand was in grave danger of discontinuance, even if it was ripping up the charts in other locations. This was a big lesson for us. We realized that we had to be a big hit right off the bat in every new location.

Today we warn clients about celebrating prematurely when they get their brands in a new location. This is not a cause for celebration. This is cause for caution and vigilance. You can’t be discontinued until you are there. Now that you are there, you can be discontinued – forever!

We advise them to stop everything, send everyone over to the new location, and help make sales happen at once!

Store Personnel.

Introduce them to your brand so they can recommend it with confidence. Take the time to make them feel important by pointing out how you depend on them to keep the shelves stocked. Your brand’s performance is based on scans (sales out the front door). If your product is still in the back room, it can’t scan.

Advertise Locally.

Since it is local people who will come into the store, they must know your brand (and want to buy it). They must find out about it with flyers, demos at fundraisers and events, signs, or, as we did, by supporting local causes so you can give the community a social reason to buy your brand.


Try to get the store to do a temporary price reduction to introduce their customers to your brand. Also, try to get another popular brand in another category to do a co-promotion where you offer a price reduction on their brand when customers buy your brand.

Instore Demos.

Offer product demonstrations and/or tastings of your brand in the new store. Be sure to get the store to order in enough for the demo, then order in again to support the new customers who will return looking for your brand. Ask for floor displays and out-of-category stacks.

Remove Barriers.


Hard to believe is the fact that you will have to check the store’s handling of your brand.  Is it in stock? Is the price right? Is the reorder tag correct? Is the UPC correct on the scanner? Did they reorder it when they sold out? And so on. Be diplomatic about fixing the errors so you don’t get kicked out of the store for something they did wrong.

We say, “When it comes to brand performance, everybody wants to milk the cow, nobody wants to raise the calf!” If you intend to succeed, be prepared to raise the calf!



Who We Are

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) & Shelf Smarts courses to help consumer product brand builders achieve success. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular business site at

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact