The market for soft drinks endures despite competition from smoothies, juices, bottled water and energy drinks. Giants such as Pepsi and Coca-Cola operate through global networks of distributors and vendors, while local and regional companies develop rival refreshments. If you're considering an investment in this business, take a few important steps to research and prepare.
Many soft-drink companies make a multitude of products and target niche refreshment markets in addition to snack foods. Rely on any knowledge of the market you've gained through experience as a retailer, concession-stand owner or restauranteur. Potential corporate partner will favor, and in some cases require, some kind of related prior business experience.
Contact potential partners. For many companies, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi and RC Cola, this means navigating their website and completing an inquiry form that gives basic information about your operation: location, experience, amount of investment capital, and the products you're interested in carrying. If the future looks promising, a company rep will respond with a phone call to discuss your options and opportunities. You might find it easier to hook up with a local or regional manufacturer in search of new distribution channels.
Getting the Word Out
Soft-drink companies want their partner distributors to succeed. For that reason, they have their own marketing programs that assist with media advertising, sales promotion, point-of-sale displays and sales training. However, you also need an individual strategy for your own territory that takes into account the needs of your buyers and end-customers.
Getting Off the Ground
Establish and build your business, after researching potential competitors who already work in your area. Soft-drink distributors take several forms: independent bottling companies, which contract for bases and syrups from the parent company; wholesale suppliers, who serve as middle parties between manufacturers and end users; and route vendors who service vending machines, stores, stands, restaurants and public facilities. The startup costs, asset purchases, staffing and licensing requirements for each will vary.