February 8, 2021 12 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Mezcal Ojo de Tigre is a brand that came onto the market in May 201 8 and is born from two agaves, the first from Espadín and the second from Tobalá, which come from Oaxaca and Puebla. All its agaves are cultivated and sustainable, respecting all those that are wild.
“We have been launching it for two years, and today we are on sale nationally in Mexico and internationally at the end of this month, next week we will have our launch in the United States”, says Patricio Cuevas, who is a brand manager of Ojo de Tigre.
The brand was launched barely two years ago, in 2018. Ojo de Tigre has sought to position itself in the Mexican market with good results. This thanks to the synergy of a group of Mexican entrepreneurs led by the Mexican actor and producer Luis Gerardo Méndez , in addition to the architect and hotelier Sebastián Sas, and the co-founders of the COLOURSMX agency Jorge Mondragón and Cory Crespo.
37 percent of mezcal production was sold in Mexico, however, the largest consumers of this liquor are Americans, 45 percent was sold in the northern country in 2019.
Mezcal has been the liquor that has grown the most in the last year, according to the Systematized Information System for Channels and Markets (ISCAM) and has already reached 603 million pesos, which represents two percent of the entire industry leads for tequila with 40 percent.
There are several criteria that are very important to take into account when you want to start a mezcal business.
“The most important thing to start a mezcal business, from the outset is to know and understand the market, understand who your main competitors are, what each one of them does and obviously know the consumer, what they are looking for, what they want , that they need, all this with the intention of offering them the best product and that you can differentiate yourself both in the center of consumption, on the shelf and in the experience they are going to have when they drink mezcal ”, says Patricio.
Taking into account the above, Patricio explains how his experience has been in undertaking a business related to this type of product.
“The experience has been very interesting, the truth has been unique, different, but at the same time it is enriching and it is also gratifying to see how the consumer is accepting the brand or has been accepting it, not only them, and to see that your objective as company is being fulfilled, as a brand since you decide to launch it on the market you are fulfilling it, that our purpose from the beginning has been to transmit and take the sensory heritage of Mexico to the world and what better way to do it through an alcoholic beverage such as mezcal, that has been in existence for years in the country and that has also been gaining a lot of relevance in recent times ”, says Patricio.
How to start with mezcal
The relevant points that must be taken into account to start a mezcal business .
“Creating a mezcal itself is not difficult. That is to say, there are nine states of the republic that have a designation of origin, where you can produce mezcal and in each of these states there are many small producers that manufacture or make a specific production or batch for some brands. However, we must consider that in order to position a brand of mezcal you must have a unique product that can differentiate itself in the market, today there are more than 300 brands of mezcal. So, it is super important that you know what you are selling and not only that, but that you manage to transmit a story or that you know that there is something else behind the mezcal or the product that you are trying to make, ”explains Patricio.
It is not enough just to try to sell one more brand of mezcal, but there must be that differentiating factor that attracts consumers, based on what they want, in order to enter the world of mezcal, since that will help place you , since it is an industry that is too competitive and which requires a lot of investment.
“It is super important to know the market and you must also understand where and what they are looking for. It is not launching any product, you must also be very passionate, it is a very competitive industry, it is one that requires a lot of investment and that to any brand that you launch tomorrow, not only in the alcoholic beverage industry or in the mezcal category, if you are not consistent with what you are doing, if you do not believe in what you are looking for and do not feel the consumer, then you are not going to achieve it. Everything is about perseverance, dedication, being consistent is the most important thing to be able to undertake and get involved in this world ”, adds Patricio.
In order to enter the mezcal industry, some extremely important permits are required.
“In the specific case of mezcal there is a Council that regulates it, it is called the Mezcal Regulatory Council and in order to commercialize mezcal you must comply with the 070 standard, which tells you about this entire production process that you must have in order to be declared or considered mezcal. You can be considered mezcal, artisanal mezcal or ancestral mezcal, as long as you comply with that, obviously you have to be approved and validated by the Regulatory Council and in addition to complying with the labeling regulations that exist for alcoholic beverages, we have specific rules for Mexico and these are changing depending on the country where you want to market the mezcal ”, explains Patricio.
Starting with mezcal can be a viable idea, but it requires a lot of passion, dedication and perseverance.
“It is a viable idea, the truth is that we really like what we do, regarding the impact, you can have both negative and positive impacts. I tell you the negative impact of doing all this logging, you use a lot of wood in the mezcal process, then illegal logging or carrying wild agaves is the negative impact. For example, by using sustainably grown agaves we are allowing the plants to continue, we produce our own plants, our own raw material and also the wood that is used has sustainable mowers, so all this helps you to control production a lot since do not affect negatively. Regarding positive impacts, we have an ancestral Mexican drink that we are making known to the world, also the part that we are transmitting about the heritage of Mexico to the world and in our case, we have more than 65 families that depend on the production process of Ojo From Tigre, both in the field and in the different points, that is, points of sale, in the corporate, all the people behind the brand are more than 65 families that you support. So it is a very positive impact that the brand has ”.
Regarding the approximate investment required in this industry, it is difficult to define it, since there are different factors that influence it.
“I could tell you that there are three factors that greatly influence the investment behind a brand. It is a very competitive industry and where there is a lot of money behind. So, you know that there are large alcoholic beverage companies that make gigantic investments and for those that are just being born or growing it is very difficult to invest. The investment behind it is a bit difficult to determine, but there are three main factors: production , that is, that you can have your own production, with your own distribution and the estimated investment that you can make, also depends a lot on the sale price . It’s not like selling a bottle for 400 pesos means that your margin is the same as one for 5,000 pesos. Those in the end are very similar and it depends on that. I couldn’t tell you that there is a specific investment by brand, but they are aggressive investments ”, clarifies Patricio.
Market analysis on consumers is extremely important, there are several aspects that must be taken into account. For example, understanding perfectly what you are going to do and who you should focus on, especially understanding what points you are going to start from to perfect your experience.
“When we started with Ojo de Tigre, we realized what was already on the market. To launch a new brand, you have to understand very well what you are going to do, know who you are going to focus on and direct. We realized what the negative characteristics of mezcal were and we tried to base ourselves on the points that consumers did not like to go from there and perfect it. It is what we have today with Ojo de Tigre, a mezcal that is presented in an iconic bottle and in which it is much more subtle in the mouth, which does not have such aggressive notes, which then are the ones that conflict the consumer a bit. Understand 100% what the market is looking for and focus and develop your product on that ”, says Patricio.
This whole concept is born from the passion and love for Mexico, for mezcal and the desire to take this distillate to the whole country and to the world.
“Without passion, dedication and love, you cannot develop and transmit it. It is very important that with all these things that are behind a brand, you manage to land it. In the case of Ojo de Tigre there are several partners involved who are strategic pillars for the brand, this passion is born from them and thanks to what each one of them brings to the brand is that we have managed to evolve to where we are on the day of today and already preparing to export, which we did not believe we were going to achieve so quickly. For us it was very important to position the brand in Mexico before reaching another market ”, external Patricio.
The brand is mainly aimed at young women and men, but their purpose is to encourage them to venture into the consumption of this type of typical Mexican product.
“The specific case of the brand, we are focused a lot on young men and women. The majority of consumers today, from 20 to 30 years old, most of the consumers of mezcal right now are much older people, that is, from 35 to 40 years old, which I am not saying that there are not young people, obviously there are also … are those who still many of these consumers did not dare to venture into mezcal and who are also afraid to try it … There is a legend or myth with mezcal that you drink one and feel that you fly, this is just what we want to do, the attract new consumers from other categories who are afraid to explore this distillate who believe that taking one makes you very bad and that is precisely what we want to change in people’s mentality or that they know something that goes much further “, he emits Patrick.
Planning, key to a good operation
Bearing the above in mind, we must understand that a good operation is based on excellent planning, there must be clear objectives.
“By planning I mean everything that involves the operation of a brand, what is behind it, the supply chain, the logistics part, the finance part, the marketing part, all these different links that exist, which then people assume that they are very simple or that you are not considering whether some of the materials that you need to produce are going to arrive on time and you also need to understand what your demand will be, your sales objective to determine everything this in a correct way ”, explains Patricio.
Finally, he adds that the profile of entrepreneurs is that a person is passionate, creative, with ambitions and willing to tolerate the different risks involved in undertaking. If there is no love, passion or dedication for everything you are developing in the project you are doing, you will not achieve it. To be able to undertake, not only is it enough to have an idea and develop it, because the most important thing is in the desire and desire.
“Before venturing out, you must be very clear about your business plan and never forget why you started, if you lose sight of this, it no longer has a reason to be. If you are not a patient person, it is also very easy to lose your vision and desire. You cannot wait to start a business and that on day 1 you are already making a profit, you must understand that there is an investment and it is a very long process to achieve it, there are many people who get lost along the way, who forget why they started and after a month he says that he is not pulling but you start to see the real results one or two years after you start and that is if it is going well … that is, this could be much longer ”, concludes Patricio.