Rolling into Fall

I love this time of year.

As usual, the Yankees are rolling. Even better, my favorite sporting event, the U.S. Open, just took place at Flushing Meadow. Unfortunately, I never get to play, not even in the (Ulp!) seniors’ draw.

Summer is drawing to a gracious end, and most of the companies I deal with are reporting they’ve had fine seasons. With the kids returning to school – always a good thing – the pace of business quickens.

Travel plans are executed for the four big October conventions as we all scramble headlong into the 2007 sell-in period. This annual mating call brings out a plethora of new, exciting products, promotions and packaging.

Sometimes, when I’m not on the road, I like to sit at my desk and look at my shelves, which are covered with the drinks I’ve amassed over the years. They never fail to remind me that this is an industry of innovation, creativity and risktaking. But while I’ve got quite a collection, occasionally it’s hard to put into perspective just how many products have been introduced over the years. Just the other day, I decided I could use some of that perspective, so I went directly to the source: I logged onto BevNET.com.

Actually, first, I called John Craven, my counterpart at BevNET, head of the Beverage Spectrum/ BevNET partnership. While we’ve both chronicled new introductions in our respective media, I must admit that BevNET is the definitive source for new products. They try – and then they rate – everything! If you know me, you know I already love you all for the hard work you put in. You all get five stars from me. But at BevNET, they have been known to be just a little bit more demanding.

Regardless, I asked John if he could tell me the number of products BevNET has reviewed. Being the savvy techie he is, John immediately replied “2679 reviews since 1999 as of 8:50 this morning.” Now that’s precision!

If you look at BevNET’s reviews, you get a clear picture of the brands coming into the marketplace. I advise you all to visit the site to see the latest launches and to study the archives for perspective on the brands that have worked or failed.

By assimilating what you learn from this magazine, from convention season, and from BevNET, you can choose wisely. Keep up on the trends, read the trades and wire services, talk to your customers, attend shows and conferences. It is not easy to assess categories, so avail yourself of every tool available. This is a crucial time of year for deciding on your signature products. And for the Yankees.