Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Great Ideas

I’m not sure if it is because I am closing in on 15 years in the business or the current explosion of activity in it, but I’ve had several people strike up conversations with me about “great ideas”. Most of these have been in reference to various products and inevitably I’m asked to give my opinion about each of them. In the past I’ve been happy to put in my two cents and analyze why I think a new or existing beer or spirit is a “great” or “terrible” idea. I’d reference the past, current trends, a similar product, or even the experience of the people executing on it. However, recently my approach to this stuff has changed.
When these types of questions are posed to me now, my response has turned from one of thoughtful engagement, to simply “I’ve stopped trying to pick winners and losers”. It is still interesting to me what is successful and what isn’t, but predicting it with any certainty seems oddly difficult. I don’t recall anyone shouting from the rooftops that $30/bottle vodka was going to blow up and “ice” beer was going to all but disappear (Monday morning quarterbacks can now start pontificating about the reasons we all should have foreseen these outcomes) .
As for now, there are bunches of new spirits and beers hitting the shelves each day. The last year has seen the emergence of a half a dozen new packaging breweries in RI alone. Each brewer and distiller has their own unique approach to the business and none of them would be doing it if they didn’t think their ideas were great. You’ll continue to hear about the winners (which we may be one). You may never hear of the losers (which we may, also, be one). For my part, when we develop something new I rarely worry about whether it will be the best selling thing we could make and find myself, instead, worrying more about making sure we are making it the best we can and doing our best to let others know why we made it. As you may have guessed, I’ve stopped trying to predict how many others will actually agree with us about our “great idea”. Rest assured we think all of our ideas are great and fully understand that we’re the only ones that think that.

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