One reality of getting older is that your attention tends to wander. Hence, I present some disparate thoughts to ponder.
Let’s face it: this winter has been one for the books, a tragedy, a horror story. Across the country, we have had to contend with record cold, brutal conditions, massive amounts of snow, sleet and freezing rain, all of which have made for an awful business climate. The only Polar I ever want to talk about is Polar Beverages, in Massachusetts, not polar vortex. Sadly, that weather is nevertheless the bane of the beverage business.
One of the most enjoyable parts of my work is that I get to visit with so many beverage marketers. They open up their offices, share their visions, and let me catch a glimpse of the drawing board. We talk to assess the trends, past and present successes and failures, and where to go next. Bringing out new brands and SKUs, and upgrading packaging efforts, make for key aspects for competing, envisioning the next great thing, and staying solvent.
There’s no excuse – it’s time for my annual office cleaning column, where I look around my beverage collection and mine it for insight. This year it will be especially poignant (for me, at least) as in July I’m moving to a new office a few blocks from my present digs. I have to clear out as much as I can before the move, and that makes for sober reflection of the huge collection of beverages I’ve amassed over the course of 21 years in the industry.
Fuel cost is a major deterrent to our national recovery. I see and hear how it impacts our beverage universe. Yet, there are no clear answers or policies to address the spike and no coherent way to bring it down.
In an industry that is often risk averse, BevNET Magazine publisher Barry Nathanson suggests that beverage retailers and distributors take more chances on new brands and innovative products. "Beverages are in a lull, waiting for the next great thing. If it arrives soon, terrific. But until then, take a chance on some exciting new entries," said Nathanson.
This is the time of year that, as the “Boys of Summer” return to Florida for Spring Training, I get to think about my favorite things: the Yankees, and my annual baseball analogy column. I just love the chance to compare the comings and goings of the sport I love to the action in the business I love. This year, I’m going to play the grizzled vet, dispensing lore and wisdom to a group of eager rookies wondering how they’ll break into the lineup.
Be realistic in your positioning, claims and posturing. Retailers and distributors have a long term, largely successful game plan. Be realistic in approaching them, and help guide them to where you think your brand should be.
Transparency, literal and figurative, is always good for a product. A pink lemonade should dress the part. As such, whenever possible, you should banner the brand to help the consumer make the connection. The reds, blues, greens and other colors of the spectrum helped to give Jones Soda and dozens of other companies their signature. They were all fun, and added to the drinking experience. That holds true today.
It seems that Ringo and the Beatles were well ahead of their time, beverage wise. Using a little poetic license, I assume they meant things should be natural. Yes, I know they didn’t really mean that, but I wanted a lead-in to the theme of natural, and I love the Beatles.
Over the past few years, I’ve become more aware of the “enhancers” that are taking a larger role in our industry. “Enhanced beverages” have been a major part of the industry for many years now. From the original SoBes and Vitaminwaters to present day functional products, these drinks now dominate the retail landscape and are the major drivers of volume in many categories.
As we come to the close of what has been a tumultuous year, I want to take stock of some of the issues that have dominated the news recently. The events of the past few weeks in my home city of New York are staggering and overwhelming. The efforts to recover and rebuild have been exemplary. It’s a stark contrast to an issue that has dominated our beverage universe – the controversy surrounding an unjust wrongful death lawsuit filed against Monster Energy.
I’m from the old school. I’ve written, many a time, my aversion for much of modern technology, although often it’s not in longhand anymore. Friends, both personal and professional, are aghast that I still haven’t embraced a smart phone and the world that it opens up. My colleagues kid me about it, although they seem to accept that they’ll never see me log into our Sales Force system anytime soon. I just turned 64, and, somehow, I’ve been able to get by and stay connected to the industry just fine.
I am big admirer of great packaging. I can think of no other industry that is more successful in its presentation of its products than the beverage industry. In no…