An exclusive interview with Tequila Ocho’s Global Commercial Director Jose Sandoval Roman
Thanks to the creative twists of modern mixology and to the attention that more conscious consumers are paying to craft-made products, premium tequilas are earning a more sophisticated image and continuing to seize share of the spirits category, with an impressive worldwide growth.
While many interesting articles were dedicated to the agave-based spirit’s quality, versatility and distillation techniques, Liquid-News would like to shine a light on the category under a distribution focused point of view, through an insightful interview to Mr Jose Sandoval Roman, Global Commercial Director at the first single-estate, single-field tequila in the market.
Ocho, founded 11 years ago in Arandas, is the result of the successful partnership between the Camarena family, who started making tequila in 1937 from the agaves of their own fields, and Tomas Estes, a category expert recognized worldwide for his
passion and expertise. Since the launch in 2008, the company has expanded not only their range, but their global presence, too, which continue pursuing the brand consolidation in the markets now led by Jose Sandoval Roman who joined the team almost a year and a half ago.
With over twenty years of experience in the worldwide distribution of tequila, with a particular focus on sales growth, marketing activations and business performance, Sandoval is now responsible of the international brand development across 38 countries and has answered to a few questions about his career, his role and the sales strategies he has implemented for Ocho.
You have joined the company as Global Commercial Director in September 2017, appointed by Tequila Ocho’s Founder Tomas Estes because of your extensive experience in the category. What do you feel was your most impactful contribution to the company so far?
Tequila Ocho is a great brand with a beautiful and amazing story behind. Before my arrival to the company, Tomas and his team were doing a terrific job in terms of PR and education, therefore I have been focused in establishing clear commercial goals and objectives, developing the global strategy and defining the different tactics in the field to spread the word about Tequila Ocho and grow the brand by consolidating and accelerating the current markets and expanding the new ones.
How did your interest and passion towards the tequila category started?
I was in the transportation industry working for a German freight forwarder, when I had my first contact with tequila, as Herradura was one of our customers. I then met Tomas Estes in 1994 who got me a little bit of that passion for Tequila. My career in the agave-based industry has started in 1995 and I have been in this fascinating world since then.
Drinks International 2019 annual international brands report named Ocho n.1 top trending brand and n.2 best selling brand, as well as top 3 margaritas. What makes your range more attractive than other tequilas?
It is important to mention that we are humbled and honored for this. I believe it is the combination of many good things such as using the best raw material available in the market (agave plants from the Camarena Family), doing the tequila production in the same way than slow food is produced, with patience, care and respect, without taking shortcuts and doing everything with honesty, passion and joy.
On top of this we have our three main selling points:
TASTE / AGAVE
It is a pure tequila, which has an exceptionally full and complex agave flavor while being smooth and balanced.
SLOW FOOD PRODUCTION PROCESS
It is made carefully and slowly in small quantities, putting passion and pride, as well as using traditional methods.
“RANCHO UNICO” / “TERROIR”
All the agave used for a specific bottling comes from one specific field, demonstrating the depth of flavor and aroma that this ingredient gives to tequila, depending on its origin.
How do you see the tequila category evolving in the next five years?
Tequila category would continue its premiumization every day. Consumers are every day more and more sophisticated, looking for unique products, with a true story behind them. Tequila consumer base in the world is growing and the whole category is upgrading looking for better and quality products. This trend will continue and even increase in the coming years.
Finding valuable partners in different countries can be very challenging, as every market follows its own rules and importers have an entire portfolio to represent, which might result, sometimes, in a lack of focus over time. How do you keep them focused on your brand year after year?
We are in close contact with the markets and our distributing partners. We have different KPI´s that require continuous contact and exchange of information.
Besides the fact that Tequila Ocho is a fun brand, which encourages enjoying the everyday activities for everyone involved.
How important is exhibiting at trade shows and how do you judge the success of your participation?
So far, trade shows have not played an important part of our commercial activities or brand promotion.
From distillery to consumer the way is very long and branched, with different layers making distribution very complex. How do you keep track of every step and which one do you find the most challenging for your brand?
Communication with our distributing partners is the key. We want to be informed of the opportunities and threats they face on each market since working as a team would be easier to solve problems or leverage opportunities. Main challenge is to compete with brands they do not really feel the passion for the Tequila culture.
Tequila transmits a little bit of Mexico and its culture in each bottle, and you must have passion inside of you. Lack of this passion results on brands / companies more concerned into profits, rather than expanding and sharing with the world the Tequila culture, its wonderful history and the real traditional way it should be produced.
How important is e-commerce and how do you approach this channel?
E-commerce is not so simple when it comes to distilled beverages, especially because of the tax issue in different countries. This is a pending issue for us that we have not started in a concrete way although many of our importers do it in specific in their respective markets.
What would be your suggestion for someone who would like to start a career in international sales in the beverage industry?
+ Dream, dream a lot. What you dream is what you can get.
+ Networking is quite important these days. Get connected with colleagues
+ Once in the Beverage industry, focus and get specialized in a category. Become an expert in specific field and your knowledge and expertise would be your main presentation card.
Tequila Ocho is available in the following countries:
UK: Cask Liquid Marketing
US: Altamar Brands
Canada: Kirkwood Diamond Canada
France/EU: La Maison du Whisky
Australia: Vanguard Luxury Brands Pty Ltd
Japan: Union Liquors
Denmark: Juuls Vin & Spiritus A/S
Greece: WS Karoulias
Cayman Islands: Harvest Distributors
India: Vault Fine Spirits Pvt. Ltd.
Singapore: La Maison du Whisky
Mexico: Cia. Tequilera Los Alambiques S.A. de C.V.
Bahamas: Young’s Fine Wine
Hong Kong: Brand Connect Hong Kong
China: Gotham East
Malaysia: Wholly Spirits Sdn Bhd
Germany: Perola Fine Spirits
The Netherlands: Bart’s Bottles
Philippines: Wine Warehouse
Bahrain: National Hotel Services Company W.L.L.
Croatia: Atrox d.o.o.
Italy: Compagnia dei Caraibi
Director of Sales and Marketing