Helping the small brand compete against the big boys: Walter Aguilar shares his successful secrets in a best-selling book

  Independent global brand consultant Walter Aguilar has written a book which quickly became an Amazon best seller when it was released earlier this year. Aguilar, who has a long history of working with luxury brands in all key product categories along with time on the retail side of the business, tells TMI that his particular career journey gives him the perfect set of tools to help a brand go to the next level.

   “The book is called Create: Luxury Brand. It is for any entrepreneur who wants to position their brand or company in a better way. It has all to do with branding, some basic principles, some real true stories, especially cases that I worked on. And cases of other successful brands, like LVMH,” says Aguilar.

   “The book is mainly geared towards somebody who has a brand and wants to take it to a different level. The book is not for experts. It is not for people who are already selling. It is more for brands that are just going to be created, or have been here for a while and are trying to globalize,” he says.

   “If someone has a brand that is just starting they don’t have the budget, the network. They don’t have all the resources that the bigger brands have. I have learned how to be a small brand and compete with the big guys, so why should I not share that?”

   In his book, Aguilar explores the fundamental principles that drive the success of luxury brands, including their unique positioning, exclusivity, and storytelling. He delves into the psychology of luxury, understanding the emotional connection that consumers have with luxury brands and how to create that connection for your brand.

   “Whether you are a new entrepreneur, a marketing professional, or a seasoned business owner looking to take your brand to the next level, this book provides you with the tools and insights needed to create a luxury brand that resonates with your target audience and stands the test of time.”

   Aguilar’s luxury brand bona fides began with the introduction of Ron Zacapa Centenario into the worldwide travel retail industry. He ended up creating the super- and ultra-premium rum categories.

   “My first nine years were mainly focusing on perfume, cosmetics, and accessories. And then I focused on liquor and tobacco. What I learned from the perfume companies helped me a lot when we were trying to build the ultra-premium rum category,” says Aguilar.

   “When I first got Zacapa it was $17. I said we needed to push to create the ultra-premium rum category as Grey Goose did with vodka. That brand inspired us to position Zacapa as a leader, to create this ultra-premium rum category, which was not commercial then. We opened Shanghai, Beijing, Dubai. We opened all the key airports. We made a case study for Dufry Mexico, and then we became the reference with Zacapa for the ultra-premium rum category.”

   “The brands that I have helped in the past include Zacapa, Botran on a global basis, and Cihuatan, which was coming from a non-traditionally known rum producing country to become a very important rum brand now.”

   Today Aguilar is an independent global brand consultant through his company AguilarW & Co.

   “I help brands achieve specific objectives through a global network that I have. I also do branding, positioning, communicating. I have a team in various countries and continents that help me with specific projects. Some projects are just in Latin America, some are global, some are branding, some are travel retail. If the company has an export or marketing department I work very closely with them. I help them to make fewer mistakes and get there faster more efficiently with a lower budget,” he says.

   “I’ve worked directly with brands and negotiated with key luxury brands, including all the top perfumes and cosmetics, liquor, and confectionery brands.”

   Aguilar is currently working with Ron Carupano from Venezuela and Sliabh Liag Distillers from Ireland.

   “With Carupano I am working on a global basis to enter international markets. We’ve launched Japan earlier this year. We’re now in Mexico, Australia. And we’ve launched in Costa Rica and Honduras,” he says. With Sliabh Liag Distillers I work specifically for Latin America.”

   Aguilar has also recently began consulting for Oliver Rums.

   Aguilar says the environment is different today than it was when he first brought Zacapa to the market.

   “I think now it is different than 20-30 years ago. It is interesting how it has evolved. But today I think you can actually compete and win. Today a brand can actually communicate with the consumer and listen to them. You have to understand what people want, what the consumer needs. I think in today’s world a new emerging brand can compete and make it if it has discipline, a clear plan, and is surrounded by the correct professionals.”

   Publishing his book has given Aguilar more visibility and helped grow his brand.

   “I was invited to be a speaker at eWMS (electronic World Marketing Summit) in November directly by Philip Kotler, the father of modern marketing,” he says. “I am also working on a publication with them and leading university INCAE to write a success case of the work that has been done with brands from Central America that will be used as study cases in universities.”

   Aguilar’s book is already a successful case study.

   “The book became a bestseller in Amazon. It’s absolutely crazy. So I wrote it in English. And then I published it also in Spanish soon after that. It’s an e-book and now available in hardcopy.”