When you’ve been around an industry as long as I have, you have the perspective, time frame and window to reminisce about the good old days. The beverage industry has gone through monumental changes over the 22 years that I’ve been involved. We’ve seen the rise of dozens of new categories, thousands of new brands, launched by thousands of dynamic companies. We’ve seen the heights of CSDs followed by the erosion of these brands that once constituted the industry.
The changes all started with the “New Age” beverage category, such a quaint name that Beverage Marketing Corp. helped define. It was soon followed by a myriad of energy drinks, sports drinks, functional beverages and the like. Who would have thought that bottling water, and its derivatives, would be the driving force to shape the marketplace, giving the consumer a new beginning in healthy choices. The enclosed Natural Beverage Guide is the culmination of the 22 years of better living that has flashed before my eyes. The industry has invented and re-invented itself many times over. It’s been great.
There are many topics to revisit, but I just want to touch upon change that I sorely miss. In the early days, the marketing and promotional efforts were Cecil B. DeMille quality. I vividly remember the launch of Virgin Cola with an army tank rolling into Times Square. Wendy, of Snapple fame, led a motorcade through the streets of the city. Dr Pepper had a promotion of dramatic proportions that brought together the Stanley Cup, World Series, Super Bowl, Daytona 500 and NBA trophies in Bryant Park. Initiatives by A-B, Miller, Coors and others were truly newsworthy and generated great excitement and hype. There were dozens of launches occurring with great frequency and we in the press knew about them. The news media from print, radio and TV generated an excitement of these products coming to market. They were incredibly fun times.
Now, reflective of society today, everything is generated through social media. It is the catch-all and cure-all for whatever qualifies as news, promotion and consumer interactivity. Our reliance on it has taken away the excitement and joy of actually doing something. It is boring, impersonal, and relies on “followers” to show how well your brand is being perceived. Now it says to visit our site to see which celebrities drink our brand. The new generation would rather communicate through their devices, instead of face to face, voice to voice contact, so the marketing by them is devoid of creating the buzz. Why does our culture get so much satisfaction looking at a cell phone screen, and snapping pictures of an event, instead of taking in the event itself?
I get hundreds of news releases about new products, and everyone directs me to their site. They want me to register as one of these followers, to add me to the number count. Somehow, this experience is good enough for the marketers to show they’re making an impact. There is no excitement. Marketers used to be creative and resourceful to make their brands stand out. I loved to attend these launch events, take in all the energy, and hopefully, want to support their efforts to drive the brand to success. Now it’s ho hum, another link to a site.
I miss the buzz.