I moved into a new office space two weeks ago. Nothing earth shattering there. The most arduous – and the most interesting – part of the move was packing and unpacking the massive collection of beverages that I’ve accumulated over the years. I was only moving a few floors away, but I took pains to wrap and unwrap them, setting them neatly on my shelves.
It gave me a chance to be amazed by the array of products and packages that have come to adorn my office. I probably have 200 different brands in my office, but that only scratches the surface of the introductions I have seen, sampled and boxed back up because of space limitations. Even for someone who likes to constantly filter his past like myself, this was an exercise in nostalgia. There are so many brands that I’ve loved. A few days of moving let me dwell on 16 years of changes.
I bring this to your attention to point out the amounts of innovation, creativity and passion that have gone into the industry over the last two decades. In my early years, the selection was simple, the big guys had the brands and distribution, and variety and choice weren’t options. Then along came Snapple, New York Seltzer, Clearly Canadian, Evian, Sam Adams, AriZona and dozens of others to whet the palates of excited consumers. The explosion began in both the non-alcohol and alcoholic arenas, and it hasn’t let up yet.
SoBe, Jones Soda, Glaceau, Fiji, Red Bull, Fuze, Hansen’s and Honest Tea have served as leaders of the second wave of innovators that now number in the hundreds. The BevNET site is flooded with new entries vying to compete against these venerable brands. The point of entry is relatively easy: get an idea, a formula, co-packers and some hungry distributors, many seem to think, and we’ll have the next great hit. The creative origins of some of those brands and the successes in terms of stock and sales volume, of others are inspirational to the plethora of marketers with a dream.
There will be a new generation of beverages that have the vision, execution and success; that much, I can guarantee. What we don’t know is which brands they will be. (As a note of caution, out of the 200-plus brands aligning my office, more than 130 are no longer in existence). We all await the new entries. Hopefully, together, we will be able to anoint the next great ones.