Wisconsin-based LaCroix can be found in major national retailers including Kroger, Walmart, and Target, but has not been able to tap into the retailers that rely on direct store deliveries to stock their stores.
“In the beverage category, a lot of the major national chains prefer direct store delivery because they don’t have the warehouse space nor the space on their truck to now accommodate the multitude of the waters and beverages that are available,” Tom Dowdy, EVP of retail development at Hudson News Distributors, told BeverageDaily.
When choosing which beverage brand to partner with, LaCroix sparkling water made the most sense because of its “cult brand” image in the US and the rising trend of consumers replacing soda with healthier carbonated drinks, Dowdy added.
“We looked at who is at the top of sales list besides brands that are controlled by Coke, Pepsi, and Dr. Pepper Snapple” and found that LaCroix was the leading brand next to Nestle Waters, according to Dowdy.
Hudson News Distributors made its start and reputation by delivering books and magazines to retailers across the Northeast but as the migration of print publications going digital ramped up, the company considered other categories to add to its distribution network.
“We have an infrastructure that we built many years ago that includes 14 warehouses, 350 delivery trucks, and 2,000 merchandisers that’s underutilized,” Dowdy said.
The company decided that the beverage category presented the largest opportunity to fill its excess distribution capacity.
“We have a footprint of 2,400 independent retail stores that do significant revenue and volume where they’re located, but they’re very hard to reach and very hard to sell to,” Dowdy said
“The fact that we deliver to their stores every week anyway and we can put on LaCroix on our truck is a huge convenience.”
Presence at the checkout counter
An additional benefit to utilizing Hudson News Distributors’ direct-store-delivery network is the company's team of 2,000 merchandisers that unpack the cases of LaCroix and position the products in the store of which placement at the checkout counter is an increasingly prominent position for beverage brands.
“The other thing that I think makes Hudson attractive to these beverage companies is our presence at the checkout counter,” Dowdy said.
“We merchandise 50,000 checkout counters a week in the Northeast.”