CLAUDIO ROMÁN PASTOR

Mexico 2021 | TOURISM | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Claudio Román Pastor, Founder of Mezcal Mitre, about entering international markets, competition, and dealing with the pandemic.

As a Mexican spirits company, what has your experience entering international markets been like?

I studied in Spain for a year during my university degree, and I made many friends. I noticed that Mexican spirits were not being represented adequately in the international market and I felt that there was an opportunity to develop product that was not a cliché. This project was born as an international project meant for exportation. I did not like how national alcoholic beverages were being exported, so I wanted to developed a product that shared my view of Mexico. That's how the Mitre project was born. We developed a bottle that is shaped like a jaguar's head to represent a fusion between the traditional and modern side of Mexico in an elegant manner. The first years were spent on positioning the brand in the domestic market. We realized we could position ourselves strongly in Mexico and also enter other markets. We have the market position we sought before the pandemic. We were signing contracts that were not affected by the pandemic, and that opened gates for us. We have also started to find opportunities abroad, in the US. We have been making some headway. It has not been the ideal year that we thought, but we are maintaining our international contracts.

What strategies did you use to differentiate yourself in the Mexican market?

In terms of wines and liqueur, a company can position itself in the segment for alcohol consumed in cafeterias, bars, or restaurants. This is on trade. Or, one can position themselves in off trade, which is when you purchase the product in a store to consume it elsewhere. Normally, you would develop a 360-degree strategy. Thankfully, we have a product that is disruptive in terms of image, and that helped us to get the doors open for us. Our image has always been extremely impactful and stands out. However, image alone is not enough. We had a team behind us that specialized in tasting events and promotion. I realized the importance of marketing for organizations after I read a book on the person who founded Nike. This was at the end of 2019. We wanted to be strong in marketing, so we hired an individual for public relations, a strategist on digital segmentation, video, and content. Today, huge campaigns can be conducted on social networks, and we invest heavily on digital content and advertising. We love being an artistic brand and take great care of our image. We try to do things right; there is a great deal of competition, and the difference between success and being irrelevant is not doing things well. We have two bottles with jaguar heads, but we also have a cheaper brand called Origen. Even though it is cheaper, it is still very artistic and of excellent quality.

How important is online marketing with e-commerce?

We started on Amazon in 2019, but we are not that heavily focused on that. We have three labels on Amazon. We also have the three labels in Mercado Libre. My father lives in Spain, and the pandemic hit there first, and he warned me in advance of what was to come to Mexico. I thus focused our efforts on e-commerce. We have excellent reviews on Amazon; there are more than 300 mezcal labels on Amazon, and we have one in top 10 and other in top 20.

How did you prepare for the pandemic?

We were already working on raising awareness for the brand. We realized stores could close down so we decided to focus on e-commerce. On Mercado Libre, we are the second-best ranked mezcal. The digital space is a challenging environment, with users having short attention spans, so we had to focus on making ourselves attractive to clients. There are mezcal brands that have been in the market for 20 years and might be among the bestsellers in stores and restaurants, but are not well positioned online. The key to being successful is to have a good budget and content. We do not have a huge budget, but we spend every peso well. There is a generational divide in the industry between boomers and millennials. The vision of each generation is completely different. It is essential for a business to have its own digital marketing division to boost their brands.

What are your goals for 2021?

I am very focused on the off-trade side, meaning stores. I am focused on selling at a national level. We expect to grow by 100%. We also want to have a presence in 100 relevant restaurants and bars in the gastronomic business. Mexico City is extremely important because if you are well established here, you can go to other cities on the outskirts. We also want to have a solid contract in the US next year. We have more than 1,000 selling points at a national level. In 2021, we will focus on consumption centers, namely restaurants, among other businesses. At an international level, the priority is the US market.

What are your views on expanding in Europe?

Before we expand in Europe, we first have to be in the US. Once we have grown the most we can in the US, then our quickest growth will be in other regions, including Europe. However, currently the potential is in the US. It does not make sense to go to other markets.