I’ve been in Atlanta working with our distributor Georgia Crown on a sales blitz/kickoff Oval Vodka and Absinthe Mata Hari.

Key learning 1: the pushback from on and off premise retailers we’re hearing about the flood of new products, particularly vodkas, just isn’t very significant. Sure, the first response you can expect is “Oh, no, not another Vodka.” But when you start asking questions, we found that the reality is retailers very clearly recognize the importance of the category, the interest consumers in new items, and the need to carry new items to respond to those consumer needs and interests. And when it comes to new categories like Absinthe, the interest is very high.

So even in a “down” economy the market is still open and vibrant, albeit a little more cautious and conservative on inventory investments. So I guess the lesson I’m learning this week is get out of the office onto the street and see for yourself what’s happening out there and where the opportunities are. Don’t let the gloom and doom purveyers in the media determine your perception of what’s really going on. We may be in a recession and consumers certainly are changing their drinking habits. But there is always room for new brands and programs. Keep in mind that what makes the difference for them is not your brands, but how your brands can help them grow their revenues and profits.