The third annual U.S. Beverage Alcohol Forum was held at the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America convention. The USBAF is a partnership between the WSWA and the U.S. Drinks Conference, in collaboration with Brand Action Team, Next Level Marketing and MHW, Ltd.

U.S. Beverage Alcohol Forum

USDC Organizers l. to r. Mike Ginley, Jeff Grindrod, John Beaudette, Steve Raye

The Forum, held on Tuesday, April 30, was led by top opinion makers in the industry who covered topics such as trends, technology, digital marketing and distribution of wine and spirits brands in America. Over 200 delegates attended the event representing importers, suppliers, wholesalers and on – and off-premise accounts from all over the world. “We were pleased with the turnout and response from attendees,” said Steve Raye, Managing Partner of the marketing consulting company, Brand Action Team. “We received great feedback on both the session topics and speakers alike, most particularly in regard to the usefulness and practicality of the information presented.”

The conference began with an in-depth look at how brands can avoid the common mistakes made by wine and spirit brands entering the U.S. market for the first time. John Beaudette opened with a presentation on the distribution challenges new brands face when launching in the U.S., and identified current and developing solutions for successful market penetration. Beaudette was joined by TTB headquarters executive Gail Davis and United Distributors President Doug Hertz. Gail provided the audience with insight on current and potential changes impacting product labeling, and Doug identified approaches brand owners could use to maximize their chances for distribution.

The second session was moderated by Mike Ginley, Founder and Partner of Next Level Marketing, who gave a detailed overview of the structure, volume and trends of the U.S. beverage alcohol market, supported by a candid panel session led by noted mixologist, Tony Abou-Ganim.  The following session was presented by Jeff Grindrod, Managing Partner of Brand Action Team, and gave a detailed overview of emerging digital tools suppliers are using to monitor and manage growth.  The concluding session, “Digital Retail Marketing” was led by Steve Raye and provided an in-depth look at new digital and social media tools that are available to assist on- and off-premise accounts to drive customer loyalty and leverage word of mouth.  Mike Ginley of Next Level Marketing noted that the turnout was significantly increased from last year, “and we’re quite pleased with the positive feedback we received.”

Conference sponsors included Western Carriers, JF Hillebrand, Overton, Mast Capital Partners and Nixon Peabody, as well as media partners Beverage Media Group, Beverage Information Group (Cheers, Stateways, Beverage Dynamics), Tasting Panel Magazine, Bar Business Magazine.  For more information on the U.S. Beverage Alcohol Forum, contact Steve Raye at Brand Action Team or visit