Startup Interview with Knut Hansen Dry Gin
Aktualisiert: 30. Juli 2019
Kaspar & Martin, how and why have you been dealing with the German food & beverage industry in the past and what is, based on your experience, your best advice for brands that want to be successful in Germany?
"Our professional careers started in large, international FMCG companies based on food & beverages, which still helps us today in our own startup to understand the industry structure and work accordingly. As a sales manager, Kaspar got to know very well how German retail works, which can be a deciding success factor once you start running your own company.
After 10 years in the corporate world, we were hungry to start our own “big thing”. As we always enjoyed a great drink, we started our brand “Knut Hansen Dry Gin” with a great team and a supportive network of suppliers and partners. Having this great network in the relevant industry helped us tremendously along the way – and still does. Therefore, one of our best advise when starting a food & beverage startup is reaching out to the right people and working together with them in the long run.
Secondly, we would say try to outsource as much as possible in order to spend maximum time “outside” of your own company, talking to people. Getting a good amount of feedback from customers, consumers and even competitors will pave your way to success better and more quickly than if you just sit in your own office and think about the next steps."
You are very successful with Knut Hansen Dry Gin and get a lot of requests from other beverage startups asking for ideas. What are - in your opinion - the most difficult challenges for food & beverage brands in the German market, if they want to reach longterm success?
"For us, it was important from the beginning to find a niche to gain a certain level of sales volume. We wanted to be somewhat different. Therefore, our gin has a very “local” touch to it, which people in the north of Germany really like. Regional products and production is a huge trend anyways. But to be honest, we were neither the first nor the last ones to produce gin, so we actually needed something else that would differentiate us in the shelf, despite maybe a great story.
This is why we put a lot of focus on great product design. As a food & beverage brand in the German market, using the large sales potential of the stationary retail has always been our main goal. But in the shelf, your packaging design really has to stand out, because you have a couple of seconds in which consumers will make their buy or no buy decision. Therefore we went for a really special ceramic bottle with a single image on the front – our Nordic sailor. And we quickly realized that this is what actually sold. People reacted to the face and blue eyes, and they liked that it was something new that they would also want to have in their house bar at home.
As a third recommendation, we would say a brand should have a clear focus on their sales channels, e.g. HORECA vs. specialized trade vs. supermarkets etc. If you clearly know which consumers your brand is made for, then you should also know where they usually shop and where it is best to try and sell your products to them."
What do you consider the most promising marketing strategies and/or tools for food & beverage brands in the German market?
"What has worked best for us is definitely a strong social media focus, in our case especially Instagram. For food & beverage producers it is quite easy to come up with good social media content, so just be creative. German consumers already pay a lot of attention to social media and also influencers.
What we also always tried to do is to go out and let people taste our products for free as much as possible, so trade fairs and in-store tastings in German retail have always been very high up on our agenda. If this is too time- or cost-intense for you in the beginning, try for example B2C trade shows where you can sell straight away to consumers to secure earnings instead of high cost. You can then grow with time, but a certain investment in that kind of “user experience” has always helped us tremendously."
Kaspar Hagedorn & Martin Spieker
Founders of 4Anchors / Knut Hansen Dry Gin