Take a Deep Breath…

OUR ECONOMY is roiled to a level not seen since the Great Depression. The roller coaster of the Dow Jones and the collapse of several once-esteemed financial institutions have launched the anxiety meters to the stratosphere. The entire world’s economy is caught in this downward spiral. Our 401Ks, IRAs, savings, and stock accounts are evaporating before our collective eyes. Nothing seems safe or secure anymore.

Being a baby boomer born in 1948, I vividly remember the conversations of my parents and their peers about their lives during the turbulent Great Depression. Years later, their fears and angst were still very real, and the times they talked about were truly desperate. But what I remember most was their faith in our system and the American way of confronting dark issues and overcoming them. Sure, what they were discussing was different from today’s situation. They didn’t have the safety nets, government-sponsored deposit insurance, and the immediate intervention that we all hope will eventually bring us back from the economic abyss. We can believe, from their experience, that, while these times are tough right now, they too shall pass. We’ve had economic travails, recessions and tight credit before, and have always come out of it.

What does this have to do with beverages? Everything. This is not a time for marketers, retailers and distributors to go into a shell. It is essential that we continue to be visible in the marketplace. We are blessed to be in an industry that the consumer both needs and wants. So look where you can trim, of course, but don’t stop your initiatives. Beverages are a foundation of our package goods industry. Our brands are some of the few basic and luxury items that the public can afford. We would send a bad signal if the shelves weren’t stocked, if the choices were diminished, and the pricing was either cut drastically or raised too much. Promote your brands and keep up the marketing efforts. Don’t slash budgets on programs that have worked for you for so long. Give a value proposition that the buyer can embrace.

The market will come back, as will the credit. The economy will rebound, as it always has. Our industry is a bellwether of our economy. Make sure you’re serving the customer well, and you’ll be poised to benefit from the turnaround. It will come.