BevNET Live Summer 2017 got off to a billion-dollar start last month with a presentation from Scott Uzzell, president and general manager of The Coca-Cola Company’s Venturing & Emerging Brands division (VEB).
VEB is the soda giant’s brand incubation unit, charged with the mission of identifying growing brands and providing strategic investment with an eye towards eventual acquisition. Since its inception, VEB has helped develop brands such as Honest Tea, ZICO, Suja, and Fairlife.
On stage in New York, Uzzell reflected back on the group’s first ten years and outlined its predictions and plans for the future of the beverage industry.
“The only difference between this mission today and the one ten years ago; it would say to find the next billion dollar brand whereas right now we’re trying to build a portfolio of brands that can be a billion dollar potential,” Uzzell said.
The trick for VEB, Uzzell said, is to predict the future. The division’s resident “futurists” are tasked with forecasting what the beverage market will look like as far ahead as 2026. And with more than 450 new brands appearing every year, it has become more valuable than ever to be able to hone in on the ones with real potential.
“We have to continue to invest in capabilities to make sure the brands that we partner with are successful,” Uzzell said. “Because the market doesn’t give us a pass. We have to work as hard or harder to make sure that we win.”