In recent weeks the bottlers of Makers Mark premium bourbon have faced a firestorm of criticism for daring to dilute their classic recipe, reducing the percentage of alcohol in each bottle. While, to the uninitiated, the change is minimal, to the bourbon purist, particularly the Makers Mark fan, this change is tantamount to treason. When passions run so high and a change like this comes on without time to properly prepare the market, any old PR firm just won’t do. Makers Mark would do well to hire a specialized beverage Pr Agency.
There are several reasons for this, but the first – and most important – is cultural understanding. A beverage PR agency will have better grasp of all the nuances in play and a more thorough understanding of the context, language and what really matters. Another factor that must be calculated in this conversation is inherent bias. Bourbon drinkers are a dedicated and admittedly finicky group. Each drinker has his or her own personal favorite brand of “Kentucky spring water” and it will not do but for them to insist that this – and no other – brand is the best. While, on the surface, personal preference seems an entirely impossible context to control, an experienced beverage PR firm understands how to craft the message in a way that consumers will find, pardon the pun, palatable.
Now, there is no way for Makers Mark to ever convince their fans to be happy about this change. But they can control the message in such a way as to encourage understanding among their market base and, if they choose their words wisely, perhaps even engender some “we’re all in this together” esprit de corps that could actually increase sales. Meanwhile, this situation certainly offers a gift-wrapped opportunity for Makers Mark’s competition to gain market share and increase their fan base.