Friday, May 07, 2010

Guinness

Guinness had cheeky and fun posters for their product. They were drawn with odd birds and full glasses as the focal point. Guinness focused on selling their product as a daily supplement for good living. It is true that the drink was a great source for calories and did have some nutrients, but it is not like the old apple. "Guinness is Good for You" was their slogan. This was back in the days when 4 out of 5 doctors recommended smoking Chesterfields. I highly recommend drinking it though when you grow up. Tasty and because it is so filling, you can drink one and stop. This is good for business events. You look kind of classy, it is a conversation piece, and you can get away with having just one.

While I was in England, I drank a ton of Guinness. The first week the Brits would buy me Budweisers to feel at home, but once I found out that Guinness was cheaper (yes, true) I said "Only Guinness". It got to the point where I could chug a Guinness, which I would do once I got back just for a free drink. It's a bet no one passes up, because who would be dumb enough to chug a Guinness? Guinness is also good to drink in a black and tan. Ask for it with Harp. This is half Harp & half Guinness. Everytime you drink from it, the new level of suds in the glass leaves a line behind. You can see how many tips it took for you to finish the drink. Arthur Guinness, the founder and creator of Guinness, would support as few lines as possible on the glass.

Guinness sales have actually declined in recent years in Ireland. Some argued that it was due to the economic prosperity in Ireland in the 90s that moved drinkers 'up' the drinking chain. Some argued that the 'Smirnoff Ice' style drinks siphoned younger drinkers away and set them on a path of mixed drinks and fruity tastes. It is going to sound corny, but what if the decline in Guinness sales is just like most other large institutions facing problems today: choice. There is much more selection for alcohol for the Irish now, and they have the means to afford it. Power of large institutions, whether media, consumer goods or alcohol, is slowly eroding as barriers to entry for start ups are lowered, and marketing costs drop. Viral marketing can be worth millions of old media advertising, and the internet and social networking has created an online word of mouth network. The establishment will have to adjust to survive, and I believe it will. Guinness will figure it out how to adapt globally. How to market themselves as upscale to emerging markets. Maybe they can go 'retro' and tap into the trend of nostalgia. Maybe they can bring back those old posters.

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