The Season for Sake
Trouble Selling Sake?
Is it your first time selling Sake? Do you sell Sake now, but your sales are "just so-so"? Have you tried to sell Sake and given up after poor results? If you love Sake but can't figure out how to communicate that same excitement with your customers, this post is for you!
Sake's Other Advantage
In addition to being an artisan-crafted beverage with high-quality ingredients, having a rich history, health benefits compared with other alcohol, and the breadth and depth of flavors, styles, and temperatures you can serve?
Sake has many seasonal varieties.
What Sets Seasonal Sake Apart?
Craft Sake's production is rooted in Japan's climate and culture. Specifically, the fact that Sake brewing regions of Japan share a climate with four distinct seasons, and rice as a primary staple crop.
Harvesting of rice begins at the end of September, which means rice farmers would have plenty of rice and potentially time off farming to go work at the Sake breweries. That's why World Sake Day is on October 1st each year, marking the beginning of a new year's Sake production work.
Depending on the style, Sake can take as little as a few weeks to brew, and so once the rice has been harvested, dried, and milled, freshly brewed, unaged Sake ("Shinshu", pronounced "Sheen Shoe") can be sold before the end of that same year.
Most other seasonal varieties are aged into the following calendar year. These Sake are bottled and sold in the season they are brewed specially to be sold. Pairing with the dishes using ingredients specific to that season is not just a naturally exciting "limited time offer", but also enhances the flavors of season-specific dishes for a truly elevated, fine-dining experience.
Marketing Seasonal Sake
Make your Sake program more exciting by leaning into the seasonal offerings. Create a sense of exclusivity by offering products that are in short supply or only available for a short time. Here a few examples:
- Reach out with an email to announce new, upcoming Sake
- Add a menu insert advertising "This Month's/Season's Sake"
- List a "Seasonal/Special Sake" at Market Price, prompting customers to ask their server
Sell More Than Just Sake
The change in availability is a great excuse to increase your contact with customers. More outreach will increase sales of other products, too. You can take this a step further by recommending each seasonal Sake be paired with other seasonal items, like food, dessert, or cheese.
Why Aren't More People Doing This?
Offering seasonal items requires a little planning ahead. Typically, you want to order with your distributor three months in advance. That small hurdle is enough that most businesses never bother. Often when they do, it's rushed, poorly executed, and the lackluster result gets blamed on Sake, rather than the plan.
This may seem like a lot of work to you, too. But you only need to do it four times your first year and make small adjustments annually as you rotate your stock, to maximize your Sake Program.
Three months gives you ample time to market it, ensuring a timely sell-through of your inventory. It shows your customers that you care and put thought into the Sake you offer. It also helps your distributor plan their orders from Japan.
Importantly, the more seasonal Sake programs there are in America, the harder these distributors will work to source more labels, giving you fresh, new options to keep your customers engaged and coming back for more or revisiting last year's favorites!
As I post this in March, I'm thinking about Summer seasonal Sake. What can I special order from Japan now>? That way when June arrives, I have something no one else can offer. Do I want a three-month supply, or three different labels in smaller quantities so I can offer more exclusive labels when that sells out?
When Can I Get Started?
The time to start is always: "Now". Your distributor might have leftover seasonal stock from a special order that was canceled or ordered more of something excellent in anticipation of high demand. Like you or your staff, sales reps can easily lack the knowledge or vocabulary needed to sell great Sake effectively.
If you can't be bothered, lack the time, know-how, or confidence, SAKE SECRET is here for you. Create a custom seasonal menu specific to your needs.
SAKESECRET.com will continue to grow as a resource and a space for inspiration. Check back frequently for new offerings, such as updates to this blog, or better yet:
Get involved! Do you have a favorite seasonal style or label? Feel free to comment below, or continue the conversation on