Publisher’s Toast: Filling Out Your Lineup

I always love this time of year. There’s a confluence of so many different sporting events grabbing my attention. As I write, March Madness is upon us, as frenetic and unpredictable as I’ve ever seen, except for my most admired team, UConn women’s basketball. My, I love perfection. Both basketball and hockey are heading towards their playoffs, sadly without our New York teams as contenders. More exciting though is the annual spring ritual of baseball season set to begin. My Yankees have given me hope that this is the year, Red Sox be damned.

In thinking about the lineups and roster moves that all teams must put together to achieve success, I’m also thinking about personal beverage rosters, naturally.. I have a theory about consumer beverage preferences, and I’ve gotten on a soapbox behind that theory many a time to many a person.

Here goes: There is just so much beverage one can imbibe in our daily lives. There are five core products or categories that I think are personal standards.They are your staples: coffee, tea, water, juices, CSD’s and the myriad of drinks that you consume every day, week, or month. You can only put so much liquid in your body. You have your go-to brands, which constitute the core of your starting lineup. Then there are the other brands that comprise the rest of your consumption.

As we all could see at Expo West two weeks ago, there are hundreds of beverages fighting to join that starting lineup. They must compete against each other to be the 6-9 slots in the batting order, maybe allowing for the DH spot too. It’s hard for many of these new beverage types to supplant those first five drinks as part of the consumer’s regimen. Human nature won’t allow too much deviation from the routine. That is the reality of most beverages that competing marketers have to contend with.

To be truly successful, your brand must be a regular purchase in their shopping experience — in my estimation, you need to change the game, rather than the lineup, with real innovation that makes you too steady a prospect to be left behind. If you’re an occasional impulse buy, a flash in the pan, it keeps your business model always on the brink. If you are too esoteric or have too niche a taste profile, your opportunities will be limited. If you price too high, you’ll alienate the market.

I really don’t have any answer or foundation to my theory, it’s just there. That is why, in so many of my meetings with brand marketers, I say you should shoot for a double and be happy, and solvent. Cracking the lineup, in whichever position you’re placed, is better than being a bench player or designated for assignment to the minors. I hope you all have a great season, and more.