Flying Embers made one decision, and their retail footprint grew by 25%

Nothing helps your food and beverage company become a household name faster than the right in-store presentation. But how does a lean startup gain visibility when it is establishing a nationwide footprint?

Flying Embers, makers of hand-crafted hard kombucha, partnered with in-store execution experts Survey.com to solve this challenge. In the process, they uncovered a huge opportunity.

“Survey.com has helped us get on the shelf, and stay on the shelf.”

— David Vartanian CSO, Flying Embers

The Challenge: When Flying Embers launched in April 2019, they had a small sales team and big ambitions. The company was looking to establish a nationwide retail footprint and needed strong early launch results in over 900 stores. The team quickly realized they needed help with the “sprint to the shelf”.

“When you sell within the three-tier system to a distributor, who then sells to a retailer, you lose visibility to the presentation in-store and how the store shelf is evolving, as there are hundreds of beer distributor reps touching your products across the country,” said David Vartanian, Chief Strategy Officer for Flying Embers. “Survey brings visibility at retail execution as part of our go-to-market strategy, they are an extension of our sales team.”

The Solution: Survey.com provided speed and coverage, with a tech-enabled distributed workforce of local field reps and summary analytics to give Flying Embers a window into what was happening at retailers. Their team visited every store, merchandised, replenished shelves with back stock, identified out of stocks, documented product placement, and more.

The data was aggregated into a dashboard that gave Flying Embers an important insight. Flying Embers was sold in four-packs and in large 22-ounce bombers, but some retailers were separating the cans from the four-pack and selling individual cans. Customers were clamoring to buy single cans.

The Result: Choosing Survey.com helped Flying Embers deliver strong early launch results, by fixing inventory gaps, activating new stores, and getting continuous market feedback. “Survey validated our thinking that there would be strong consumer demand for a single-pack type, capturing data that 15% to 20% of the stores were breaking up the four-packs,” said Vartanian. This intel from the ground led to the launch of a single can SKU.

“I tell people Survey.com is an extension of your sales team,” said Vartanian. “Let Survey.com cover the geographic areas your team cannot. They can move product from the stock room, build displays, do the merchandising, conduct product demos in stores, and let you know what is happening in Kansas, or any one of thousands of stores. They are an all-inclusive retail solution.”

Just how big of an impact has this partnership had? Flying Embers is now found in 2,500 stores. Vartanian estimates 500 – 600 new placements are thanks to Survey.com, driving a 25% increase in retail presence.

“Survey.com has helped us get on shelf, and stay on shelf,” he says.

Go-to-Market case study co-created with Foodboro members:

Flying Embers,  Maker member, Ventura, Calif-based beverage company makes hand-crafted organic hard kombucha.

Survey.com, Enterprise member,  delivers targeted in-store execution, activations and analytics for brands with a tech-enabled workforce of field reps.