It's often been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Assuming such is the case, a list must be worth the content of an entire tome.
After all, a carefully made list is little short of a minimalist expression of what's important to, say, those in any given situation, craft, business or industry.
If you're a traveler in an airplane that's to be diverted to an unexpected destination, a list of airports ahead assumes huge proportion. If you're a cobbler, a list of which manufacturers offer a variety of heels is important. If you're in a certain sector of food retailing, a list of which growers offer prepackaged salads is important and if you're in the food-distribution business, a general list of suppliers is important.
The appeal of a list is that more can be understood from it than is actually stated. One example: Each year SN publishes its well-known Top 75 list of food distributors. The list is a hierarchy of companies ordered by net sales volume. Other information about each company is offered, including location, top executive and store count.
It's easy enough to look at that list to find out which company is largest or smallest. Beyond that, it's also possible to extract from the list the geographic density of the industry, the economic productivity of a company's store roster, the number of top executives who have store banners under their own names and so on. More, industry averages for those factors and a host of others can be determined. It all depends on what needs to be ferreted out; it's all in the list.
Lists, then, are more than just rankings. They reveal the subtle interplay among those on the list and the shadings of how they contribute to the whole of an industry.
It was with such considerations in mind that SN's editors inaugurated "The SN List," effective with this week's issue. Each week, from this time forward, SN will feature a list. What kind of list? Let's find out by looking at this week's list, on Page 12. It's a list of the Top 20 beer vendors to the food-retailing industry. It shows aggregate annual sales volume for each brewer on the list, together with the number of cases sold annually and share of case- and dollar-volume.
So what's to be learned from such a list? The matter of which is the largest brewer is obvious: Anheuser-Busch, of course, with sales volume of nearly $2.9 billion. The smallest is Scottish & Newcastle at $18.2 million. Who knew?
The list can also be dissected to determine, say, the sales-volume spread between various brewers; net market share possessed by any combination of companies; per-case dollar yield, and so on.