Manuel Greco, Trade Advocacy Manager Italy & Greece Bacardi, tells us how the company is experiencing the lockdown period and what strategies can be implemented to return to normality.
In this period of market immobility, what are you doing at Bacardi?
Since this all started our priority has been to ensure the health and safety of everyone who works with us. At the same time, we are working with our industry partners to support them during the crisis. Every day my colleagues and I speak to the owners of bars and restaurants by telephone to understand what we can do to help them. Although we cannot help every single bar, we certainly want to be close to those who need it most. As a first move, we identified 130 bars and 45 bartenders who were strongly affected by the crisis, providing concrete economic help.
Furthermore, together with my team, we are helping bartenders invest in their future through online events, consultancy for the development of drink lists and refresher and training programmes. We are covering different subject areas, from the history of rum, tequila and whisky, to the secrets of the best mixologists in the world. And it's incredible how positive the response has been from the community.
What can beverage companies do to help, and what have you as Bacardi Group done?
Being a family-owned company, doing our part to do the right thing is in our DNA. Thanks to the support of the bar and bartender community, we have been working in the spirits sector for 158 years. Throughout our history, we have always supported our partners, but now it's time to do even more and help those who need it most. This is why we launched the #RaiseYourSpirts initiative. Supported by an initial investment of 1.5 million euros, the initiative outlines a plan to help the bartender community at grassroots level, in Italy and Western Europe.
We are also helping to fight the spread of the Corona Virus by producing 1.5 million liters of much-needed hand sanitiser. The MARTINI plant in Pessione and 9 other production sites of the Bacardi Group in Europe and North America are supplying alcohol for the production of hand disinfectants. At the MARTINI plant, just outside Turin, production has been activated to make small batches of hand sanitizer for local health workers, the Red Cross and emergency services.
In your opinion, when will we be able to return to our everyday lives and how will our normality change in moments of "leisure", such as those spent in cocktail bars?
We can't predict the future, but what we know is that when the doors of bars and restaurants reopen, we will be there to offer our support. The #RaiseYourSpirits initiative does not want to work only on contingencies, but will continue to help On-Trade even when the premises reopen and in the following period. In this way we will help bars to be ready when the restrictions are less.
That said, we know that habits are changing rapidly and that people have started to consume cocktails in their homes. Online sales of spirits are seeing significant growth at the moment and so we have moved quickly to amplify our e-commerce offering – not only to meet consumer demand, but also to support bar owners in whatever way we can . In fact, I believe that cocktail delivery will be one of the main trends in the drinks sector that we will witness as a consequence of the Corona Virus and it is the only positive thing for our market and On-Trade.
How can a figure like that of the bartender help to involve people in the return to normality?
Another trend we have observed is the growth of the figure of the bartender. When they can't be behind the counters, these talented professionals have been looking for new ways to put their skills into play, increase their personal branding and generate income. For example, to support the community, Bacardi commissioned bartenders from different countries to film themselves while preparing their favorite Bacardi cocktails. They themselves then shared them on their social networks so that people could learn how to prepare them. For example, in Italy we have had the pleasure of working with talented bartenders such as Sara Pandini from Milan, Valerio D'Arcangeli from Rome and Luca Marinelli from Florence.
This boom in video tutorials of making cocktails at home is truly a fantastic thing and we are sure that the passion and energy of the bartenders will give a real boost of energy to cocktail lovers during this difficult period.