Predictions for 2011

After reading all sorts of predictions for the upcoming year, I’ve decided to add my own.

However, I should alert you a few things. First, while this blog has a diverse audience, these predictions are distinctly spirits and wine industry oriented. My ‘editor’ thinks they’re a bit too insider. But, it’s call Booze Business…duh.

Second, please be aware of the fact that any similarity between these forecasts and the likelihood of occurrence is, well, unlikely.

Without further ado, here are my tongue-in-cheek predictions for 2011.

Companies

In a complete reversal of expectations, Fortune Brands will become the majority stockholder in Diageo and the expected owner by 2012. “Hey, we’re one of the only American owned spirits companies left,” a Fortune senior executive will say, “…and the groundswell of patriotic fervor helped us raise the funds.”

Wholesalers/distributors

McLane Company (whose parent company is owned by Warren Buffett) will finish 2011 by buying nearly all spirits and wine wholesalers except for Southern Wine and Spirits.

Meanwhile, in a related action, Southern will announce that it is vacating the distributor tier and will become a spirits and wine supplier. Someone with the company will say, “What the hell, we’re the ones who build the brands anyhow… it’s time we started making the stuff.”

Products

The blended scotch market will start to grow dramatically led by Haig, Cutty Sark, Old Smuggler and Black & White. The Scotch Whisky Association will declare a drought of inventories and prices will soar. As a result, consumers will leave scotch by year’s end.

Next year will indeed be the year of brown goods, as sales of blended American whisky will increase, led by interest among millennial drinkers. Brands like Philadelphia, Carstairs and the venerable Seagram’s 7 will lead the growth. Some entry-level consumers will remark, “If it was good enough for my great granddad, it’s good enough for me.”

The maker’s of 4 Loco will reformulate the product replacing the energy drink component with a Viagra-like ingredient. Their advertising will include the statement, “We make no claims about sexual prowess but do suggest that it’s the best 4 hours you’ll ever have.”

Also in the new products area, trying to capture a large share of the aging baby boomer market, the makers of Metamucil fiber products will license their name and ingredients for a liqueur. A spokesperson will explain, “While everyone concentrates on the youth market, we’re looking at the other end of drinkers.” The brand will bring a new meaning to the phrase, the morning after.

Privatization

In a startling development, all the control states looking at privatization will decide to keep the status quo and remain state run. They will explain that control states are the only way for small brands to survive. Not to mention the financial well being of their employees.

Retailers

Big box store chains will reverse course and stop selling major brands at extremely low prices. They will say, “We’re less interested in deep discounts and more interested in building brands and making sure that the independent stores are able to compete.”  Executives in charge will be committed.

Seagram

The former Seagram owner will sell his shares in a music company to invest in a new spirits product that consumers will love, will generate huge profit margins and will revolutionize the spirits business beyond imagination. Unfortunately, none of the distributors will handle the brand.

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