Musings from Santa Monica

Our entire team has just returned from the BevNET Live conference in Santa Monica and we are flying high. I have spent 30 years in publishing, attending and hosting conferences for most of those years. To me, our event
has finally topped them all.

We gathered 460 beverage professionals from every part of the business; marketers, distributors, retailers, suppliers, the investment community and consultants and service providers.  The excitement and energy at the venue was palpable. The spirit of cooperation, consideration and sheer open dialogue was tremendous. The educational program and the accompanying speaker roster delivered in spades.

Meanwhile our “sampling bar” was teeming with over 120 new and exotic brands. A “Mini-Expo” bannered over 40 goods and services to aid our attendees in conducting their businesses. Networking was non-stop, old friendships were rekindled and new ones were formed. The beverage marketplace was on display at its finest.

We are blessed to work in such a great industry, and all the good was crystallized in the two days we spent together. BevNET  is privileged to serve as the conduit for bringing the industry together. Yes, there are issues and tough economic times that permeate the air, but the feeling that anything is possible was palpable. It is important to feel good about what you do and how you conduct yourself personally and professionally. The industry needed a lift, and that is what they got.

I just want to share a few takeaways that I gleaned there:
• Coconut waters are the shining star, and will continue to be going forward. Its variables are endless.
• The power of Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar is dominating the energy drink space, but the other brands seem to have found their markets as well.
• Functional Drinks are still proliferating, but there are still the questions of the efficacy that must be proven to the consumer. They need to be convinced. Protein drinks are growing at a rapid pace.
• The delivery system caps are just hitting their stride. Between Activate, V Blast, Karma and other entries joining the fray, the category will grow.
• Lemonade is no longer seasonal, and proves that old fashioned good taste, without functional claims, is still a winning proposition.
• The investment community is still hesitant to invest, and sets their threshold at $5 million in sales before they will consider a brand. Too many brands are on the verge of elimination because they cannot raise the funds to grow.
• Legal issues, labeling and functional claims will come under greater scrutiny. The toothless tiger of government regulation might actually have the guts to do what it is supposed to do.
• The power and prowess of experienced distribution players organizing their own networks, such as Coast Brands Group and NIDA, is strengthening.
• That Coke and Pepsi are following the moves of the entrepreneurial spirits is indeed encouraging — but don’t set your agenda and hopes on them acquiring your brand as your business plan
• There was so much to absorb at the conference. I encourage those who want to capture BevNET Live to go to our site and read about and view the sessions. It’ll be time well spent.

One last note: We announced at the conference that the name of my baby, Beverage Spectrum, was changing to BevNET Magazine. It was the right move and now incorporates all aspects of our franchise. But it is an emotional change, analogous to a parent seeing their child grow up and prosper. With our terrific team, I’m glad my child is still in good hands. We all hope you enjoy happy and healthy holidays.