LQR House’s CEO on industry trends and the use of AI

Sean Dollinger tells Retail Brew the tricks behind identifying latest trends and challenges that exist in the industry.
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· 3 min read

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From Tito’s to Jack Daniel’s, there’s no shortage of marketing for the well-established spirits brands. LQR House, a liquor marketing company, operates with a slightly different but equally strong mission: giving niche premium liquor a bigger platform.

The company launched an IPO recently, and while you may not have heard of LQR itself, you have likely heard of products like Cocktail Caviar and Mystery Tequila, and you have LQR to thank for that.

Following our recent conversation with LQR House CEO Sean Dollinger about the company’s vision, and its work with Country Wine & Spirits and Ssquared Spirits, we decided to pick his brain on the ins and outs of the alcohol industry.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

On identifying top trends

I’m sure you’ve heard of this whole craziness going on with people trying ghost peppers, for example. So then we know that that trend will appeal to our industry as well; there’s that jalapeño vodka that comes out…A couple of our board members are big, big alcohol players so they also help verify the kind of the information and the trends that we’re seeing. Then we go out there. I know the word “AI” and all these things are being thrown out…but AI is not something that’s new to me, and the power of AI is the quality of data that’s fed into AI…Due to the analytics and data that we have on Country Wine & Spirits in our relationship, we’re then able to take that data, feed it in, and then pair up with who would be the best influencer for this jalapeño vodka. And that’s kind of our secret sauce here at LQR House.

Challenges in the industry

I think why serial entrepreneurs do really well [is] they learn a lot. And I’ve had a few publicly traded companies that I’ve been involved with, and really keeping a lean and small team, and really working towards that path of profitability is so important to LQR House. So moving forward, we really want to focus on making sure that we keep the team lean and tight, and that we really have the acceleration that we need here into the future. The biggest challenges—which we’re helping in the industry—is every day, a new brand is born, and where does that brand start selling? There’s only X amount of room on a shelf. A big distributor like Southern [Glazers] really doesn’t pick up brands unless there’s momentum. So far, two brands that we’ve worked with that couldn’t get into a Southern distribution kind of environment. In just 12 months, we were able to sell enough of their product for them to be picked up by Southern. And that’s where it’s really important for us to have a distribution company so that we don’t build up a brand, and then they just simply take their business to a Southern. So it’s really important that we incubate, build, and then become part of the big picture.

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