Melvin Brings "Rotation Nation" to the Off Trade Via "Rotation IPA" Program


Dear Client:

Melvin has an answer to seasonal fatigue: a seasonal program on steroids.

Through their Rotational Imperial IPA program, one of their six Imperial IPAs will be on "rotation" in a given market -- every two months.

"With this ground breaking rotational program, the next thing in the rotation is always the freshest and most innovative IIPA, only available in small batches and select markets," per announcement.

HOW DOES IT WORK? One Melvin RIIPA will be released in select markets in cans and on draft every two months through 2018. Retailers and consumers can figure out which brews will be in which markets during which months through this site.

BUT, HOW DOES IT WORK? We thought that sounded kinda cool -- but also, kind of a logistical nightmare. We wondered how the releases would rotate in and out of markets in such a short time frame, with different Melvin IIPA brands in different markets at the same time. And how many UPCs?

Sales chief Ted Whitney said they brew to sales expectations per market. "At the brewery we're making between 60 and 120 barrels of each beer each month (depending on the size of the market it's heading to) and we're able to keep fresh beer flying out the door. ...

"In a perfect world we're out at the distributor warehouse for a week and the new one lands," he said. The intent is to have only one of these beers in a market at a time.

National account manager Lauren Young broke it down further. "The key to the RIIPA series is that they share a UPC and price point. I set up the new item so that the tag reads 'RIIPA' on the shelf, and the Imperial IPAs will rotate through. ...

"Our distributors understand the importance of selling through the initial RIIPA style before moving onto the next," Lauren added.

BUT WHY? But why do it this way? To capitalize on craft's hallmarks of freshness and novelty, basically.

"Freshness is the top goal, keeping people excited is secondary and lastly we fear boredom," said Ted.

In fact they've already been doing the program. It "wasn't without its bumps in the first year, but we're feeling really good about the bright spots and our ability to fix the opportunities we found," he said.


Boston Beer founder Jim Koch addressed it on the last earnings call. But still, the Wall Street Journal recently examined why the Sam Adams maker hasn't found a new CEO after having announced Martin Roper's imminent retirement a year ago.

When Boston announced Martin's retirement, they did say it would be about a year off [see CBD 02-03-2017].

That hasn't stopped analysts and the like from "worrying" about the time it's taking to replace him. Jim told one person on the last earnings call that the search has been lengthy because the company is sometimes "fanatically focused on product quality" and innovation … and those are "hard skill sets" to find.

A good culture fit is important to Boston, too, he said. The WSJ expanded on this thought, reporting that Jim is apparently "concerned that corporate 'climbers' won't fit in with the company's lighthearted culture or mesh well with him" -- those are the WSJ's words, not a direct quote from Jim.

As for qualifications, Jim had said they're looking for "omnicompetence" during the conference call. No pressure.

The WSJ story says Jim shared that they're looking for "outsiders with strong backgrounds in consumer products." That would fit with many of the leadership appointments we've seen in craft lately, from PGA vets at Oskar Blues' CANarchy [see CBD 01-23-2018] to foodservice gurus at Dogfish [see CBD 01-09-2018].

And he'd "like the next chief executive to be sales-and-marketing oriented, to balance out his focus on the beer."

But one "person familiar with the situation" intimates that Jim's "long shadow" and continued, major involvement in the company may be daunting to CEO prospects: "Where there's 'the long shadow of a dominant figure in a business, not every outside [CEO] candidate will take a look at it,'" they said.

Until tomorrow,
Harry, Jenn and Jordan

"Some people will never learn anything because they understand everything too soon." - Alexander Pope

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