How Berlin´s beverage startup "MexiLove" deals with the difficult Corona times
MexiLove is a ready-to-drink shot mix startup from Berlin, and the young company is normally focused on the bar and club scene to distribute tasty, high quality shots to party people and the young audience. But as Corona has hit especially that scene very hard, times are not as easy as they could be. We have spoken to MexiLove´s founder Joanna Rathenow about their current struggles, opportunities and their way through these challenging times.
Joanna, how did MexiLove – as a bar & event-heavy beverage start-up - react to the Corona crisis and how quickly did you have to rethink/restructure your sales approach?
“First of all, we - like everybody else - were taken very much by surprise by this crisis. The announcements came at very short notice and we had to sort everything out first. Of course, it was a shock when two important sales channels like gastronomy and events ceased to exist from one day to the next. We then took the time to observe the market to understand what was happening – and then we started again. With the flexibility of a still small startup, we focused more on our online channels and delivery services. We already had our own online shop and a few smaller online platforms that cooperated with us. However, we were still lacking a large partner with the appropriate reach. Due to our strong brand presence in the Berlin market, we were lucky enough to be in contact with the distributor “Durstexpress” and could win them as customers in this decisive phase.
In addition, we were able to convince other Berlin online partners of our merits. Here we also noticed that the regional and local branding theme worked very well for us. Finding this support in our own city made us, two “Berlin originals”, a bit proud and also grateful.”
How do you generally experience your fanbase and the reactions of customers to your product, and can you tell us something about your brand building success so far?
“Until today, we have reached a pretty loyal fanbase with our "MexiLovers" and that makes us very happy. We had a lot of individual customers who placed larger orders at the beginning of the crisis to support us and also to encourage us to continue. We continue to see loyal "MexiLovers" through social media, they recommend us to others and sometimes even contact us directly with long "love letters" about our product. This is really fascinating to watch and helps enormously to motivate us.
In addition, with the "MexiLove" brand we have been pursuing a consistent brand building from the very beginning and it has also been evident in this crisis, that it actually works. We stand for the Berlin party culture, a good laugh together and cosy evenings with friends. Those are moments that many "MexiLovers" like to remember and this can also give a bit of courage and confidence in the current situation. Accordingly, our tomato schnaps also finds its way into this new reality - whether in video calls, in parks or at evenings by the lake.”
What would you recommend other companies in a similar situation now?
“Every beverage company should check which online sales channels still work for their products. There are many opportunities to test, experiment and reach new customer groups now. This crisis can help us to establish new sales opportunities that were previously always not so much a priority (because offline just worked). But we also see ourselves as a realistic startup. Accordingly, we see online sales as a "survival revenue" and this perhaps puts our expectations of the current exceptional situation into perspective. Even with a reduced volume, sales can still be made and that's how it always goes on!
We are currently experiencing that the gastronomy sector is slowly reopening, so we continue to serve our regular customers here and tend to hold back on new acquisitions. From our point of view, all beverage companies should show empathy for their potential customers and not just go back to normal (e.g. straight away expecting the same sales figures as before the crisis). For HoReCa, this was and is a very hard time and although we are all struggling with sales at the moment, we should solve the common problems together, rather than falling into old patterns.
We also always appreciate and recommend the cooperation and exchange with other startups. Together we have a greater reach and work with concentrated power. We have launched various initiatives, such as give-aways or shout-outs via our social media channels, in order to continue to present cool content to our customers and "MexiLovers". Together with other small startups, new ideas are always being developed and the support among each other is very strong. This would be our final recommendation for other beverage companies. Because together, we can achieve a lot!"