Thursday, 31 July 2008

Beerlao Plans "Spontaneous" Marketing

Howard sends in a story from The Wall Street Journal on a "Soviet-trained female brewmaster... trying to turn an obscure Laotian lager into the world's next great cult beer." True to a product of a system of socialist planning, the brewery is planning a strategy to engineer "spontaneous" marketing:
Beerlao's marketing manager, 47-year-old Bounkanh Kounlabouth, fears that promoting Beerlao too aggressively will scare off its grass-roots following. Instead, he would rather follow Corona's example of becoming an "accidental" brand. "We don't want to undermine Beerlao's word-of-mouth appeal, so for us it is better to let it grow naturally."

Mr. Bounkanh spends much of his time trying to engineer such an "accident." Because he is relying on foreign tourists to spread the word about Beerlao, he is promoting the brand heavily in Laos. "We won't let the competition get a foothold," Mr. Bounkanh says.

Good luck with that, Mr Bounkanh. More worrying is Ms Sivilay's evident refusal to drink her own beer:

Ms. Sivilay says these days she rarely needs to taste a beer to see if it is any good. "I smell it and see how the head settles in the glass to judge whether it's a good beer," she says. "The tourists seem to like it though."

Of course aroma and appearance are important, but I don't think you'd ever hear Jim Koch or Sam Calagione saying they don't need to bother tasting their beers...

UPDATE: I see Maureen Ogle has commented on the story as well.

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