Frat Boy Marketing

This past weekend, I was able to meet Natalie from over at The Liquid Muse, and we were able to discuss the state of the alcohol industry. It was during one of our conversations that a thought appeared in my head…I wondered how many people are turned off from beers and liquors because of the way it’s marketed. How many people reject brands because they show their product in situations that are, let’s say, juvenile?

Compare the image of the two following companies – Jack Daniels on one side, and Glenlivet Scotch on the other. While both of them are essentially the same product – whiskey, both of them are perceived in a very different manner. The question is…why?

While my first thought was that their histories are a bit different, upon reflection, that’s not entirely true. The history of whiskey in America has many parallels to the history of Whisky in Scotland, especially in regard to taxes, smuggling, and violence.

But yet Glenlivet is seen as sophisticated, while Jack Daniels? Let’s just say that I’m not surprised to see someone doing a bong with Jack Daniel’s.

The only answer I have to this is that, while I’m sure that the folks at Jack Daniel’s do not condone idiots drinking a pint of Jack in less than 3 seconds, they certainly don’t mind that their brand has a “bad boy” image associated with it.

But this doesn’t happen with just whiskey either. The beer industry is full of companies who pander to the lowest common denominator. And while there’s nothing wrong with this (as the lowest common denominator market can still bring in a fair amount of money), at some point these companies meet a threshold where a handful of people consider, let’s say Bud Light, to be a product not to be taken seriously.

I’ll grant you, this is where my argument starts to fade a bit, mostly because Bud Light is both the number one sold beer in America and yet fairly despised by beer aficionados.

So let me pose the question: Do some people avoid products because the companies markets to an immature market segment? And does this sort of marketing affect how seriously the company is compared to other similar products?

I’m sure that both Budweiser and Jack Daniel’s don’t care all that much about their perception. After all, both are number one in their respective markets. But I do wonder about why people avoid these products.