Category: General Blogs
Back in 2005 the multi-category beverage world was in full-throttle-development-mode, churning out products to satisfy rapidly changing consumer tastes. Which to say the industry looked a lot like it does today.
In the midst of that hive of activity our editors were challenged by attempting to sum up the one or two—or even handful—of important trends that were shaping the beverage business. That’ when they came up with the idea of reviewing all things Hot, Innovative and Trendsetting—and the HIT List was born in our December 2005 issue. Besides wanting to be as comprehensive as possible, our editors set out to review the products and concepts that came along that year that were truly innovative, that weren’t just extensions of core concepts that came before.
Looking at that first HIT List today in some ways seems as though we’re looking in a mirror. Some of what we identified then were big ideas like: “The CSD redefined...As traditional carbonated soft drinks struggle to maintain their go-to status when it comes to refreshment, waters and juice marketers are adding some spark to their product offerings.” Sound familiar? The analysis continued that sparkling-based juice drinks were positioning as “upscale and healthful alternatives to the traditional carbonates. Now, a move toward sparkling offerings is poised to position bottle water as a direct CSD substitute.” That’s a line of copy that could be written to describe a dynamic of today’s beverage world.
Ten years ago we seemed to be prescient about some specific brands, too. When we identified “Modelo’s other brands” as a HIT we wrote, “It’s no news that Corona has been a powerhouse player as the No. 1 import in the U.S….that has spelled an opportunity for lesser-known siblings Model Especial, Negra Modelo and, to a more moderate extent, Pacifico.” Today, after a very public change in ownership and distribution status, those very brands are among the fastest growing imports in the U.S.
Sometimes in the beverage world ideas fly so far under the radar, they never register as a HIT but they go on to become an unabashed hit in the marketplace. Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Rita franchise is one such example.
A-B began producing Bud Light Lime-a-Rita as a promotion for Cinco de Mayo 2012, with a production run to match the expectation of an in-and-out seasonal. That initial production run sold out before the holiday and after catching notice of Wal-Mart, well, the rest is history. Today, the brand is ubiquitous in advertising around sporting events like the World Series and the NFL. It’s given A-B a bone fide way to attract millennials more enamored with cocktails than beer, and a way to attract the elusive female beer drinker into the A-B fold.
The thing is, as sophisticated as A-B is, Lime-a-Rita wasn’t one of the company’s big bets, not a concept that they put their full marketing muscle behind at first. But today, the Rita brand is poised to surpass $1 billion in sales, the 17th billion-dollar brand for A-B worldwide.
No matter how you list it, that’s a hit.