I’m a Scot. So I like a good value when it can be had. The other night I had to make an emergency milk stop at our superdupermarket. As I was rounding produce and bee-lining toward dairy, a beer box power stack caught my eye. A PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon) 30 Pack for just $15. That’s like…well it’s less than a buck a beer! Now, truth be told, I’m actually a beer snob. I like my 90-minute IPAs, my Cascade dry hopped ambers, and a good hearty porter. My wife, on the other hand, is from Iowa. She likes her coffee and her beer to be…well, more Iowan, which is to say, like making love in a boat (look it up). To keep a happy and healthy marriage, I keep a ready stock of her favorite North American lager, Labatt Blue, on hand. Yet, I was still a little taken aback when I arrived home with my prize bargain and she dismissively said “PBR? Who’s gonna drink it?”
Brand perceptions run deep. Interestingly, Pabst was the first beer her father offered me 21 years ago, when I first made his acquaintance in Ft. Dodge, Iowa. So I guess PBR was her dad’s beer and therefore not drinkable in her estimation (and she likely missed its recent retro revival with twenty-somethings that made it cool again). I decided to give her a taste test. PBR vs. the Blue. I figured that she would be able to pick it up pretty easily just from familiarity with her beer, even if deep down she actually liked the PBR as well or better. And as expected, she picked the Blue immediately and indicated that the richer finish and complexity were dead giveaways. Only problem was, she picked the PBR.
It’s what I love about marketing. Human emotion and preconceptions meet reality. And reality is clearly overrated.