Although he studied engineering in the USA, Alfonso S. Morodo’s strong entrepreneurial spirit eventually got the better of him. So, after completing his studies in America, he returned to Spain to join his father in the family logistics business. However, after mastering this challenge, he decided to set up his own business in the drinks industry, which was his true passion. After much trial and error, he began to gain experience in the sector, where he started by setting up Coronita’s first distribution company for Madrid, before eventually going on to establish his own import business for Mexican drinks.
Alfonso’s vision of enhancing the quality of the proposal and the brands led him to join forces in 2010 with a good friend who shared his dream of revolutionising the Premium drinks world, and they ultimately set up Global Premium Brands – a company specialising in this niche market and charged with the challenge of changing the status quo of the sector. In 2014, after witnessing the international expansion of own-labels, together they created a global division for these brands, which they called Vantguard.
Vantguard describes itself as a company that strives to meet the major challenges of creating brands with soul, what do you mean by “brands with soul”?
Brands with soul are brands that touch people’s hearts because they embody a set of ideals, a clear brand DNA, a personality and a way of achieving recognition, while managing to convey these attributes in all developments and communications.
This is the only way we at Vantguard see brands, and it is how we build them and communicate them to the world.
How important are brands in the drinks industry and how do you protect your brand image?
The brand is everything; when you manage to give the brand a soul, it takes on a life of its own and conveys its attributes to the consumer. We take care of all aspects of this to ensure that it reaches the consumer intact.
What is the main competitive advantage of your brands over international competitors? How would you describe your brand positioning?
We create brands that are unique in their sectors that can raise their hand and say: “I’m here, I’m different and I’m not ashamed of that, I don’t need to be like all the rest! Do you want to get to know me?” As a result, we work with the brand from an individual perspective, without having to keep an eye on what the others are doing. We see this as our main competitive advantage. Each of our brands has its own positioning, but they all aim to swim in their own blue ocean.
Despite being a young company, your brands are present in more than 30 countries. What prompted you to target international markets from the start?
When you have something interesting to say, it is not just interesting for your home market, it’s interesting for all worldwide consumers who are attracted to your brand. If you can reach so many millions of people, why not do it?
What are the main criteria for deciding whether to enter a new market? Which markets are proving most successful?
Our goal is to enter markets that have a high demand for premium products and which mirror the rest of the world. It is in these markets that we can generate higher revenues and garner more international attention. We normally leave the U.S. until a later stage because it is such a competitive and demanding market. We want to make sure we are up to scratch before entering it.
What are the main obstacles you face in your internationalisation process?
- Finding a team that is sufficiently committed and excited about the project to take it where we need to go.
- We never have enough budget for marketing.
What are the challenges facing the company over the next five years?
- To position our brands in the U.S. market, with Gin Mare among the top five “super premium” gin brands.
- To gain a strong foothold in the Chinese market, and position ourselves in Asia.
- To consolidate our Vantguard project in the 45 countries that we now have a presence in.