Thursday, December 13, 2018
Delray Beach, FL.- My family has a small interest in a Craft Beer Brewery owned by friends of ours. Because our interest is small and because they are friends, I do my best to limit my input to answering questions they ask, which are few and far between.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t have questions of my own.
Since the beginning, for example, I’ve wondered how much taste matters when it comes to selling beer. Is there a relationship between how good a beer tastes and how well it sells? Is there even such a thing as “good” and “not good” when it comes to taste?
I’m intrigued by this issue because I’ve had to grapple with something similar in almost every business I’ve worked with – questions about the relationship between product quality and sales.
In this particular case, my friends have spent a small fortune working on the quality of their brands. To them, there is a real difference between the quality of one pilsner and another.
They also believe – and this I don’t dispute – that consistency in taste is a very important factor in building a best-selling brand.
But is the taste of one beer really better than another? Or is it just a matter of personal preference?
And if so, why bother trying to make your beer taste “better” according to some expert standard of excellence? Wouldn’t it be smarter to simply find out which ones have the widest consumer appeal?
The fact is, I’ve been thinking about the question of quality in relationship to everything from cigars and wine to art and literature for most of my adult life.
And here’s what I believe: There is an absolute difference. Some Cabernets are better than others. As are some cigars. As are some books. As are some works of art.
But the number of people that can identify or even notice gradations of quality are small. Depending on the item in question, my guess is that less than 10% can tell the difference.
When it comes to cigars and tequila, I consider myself among the minority that can distinguish between, good, bad, and mediocre. I feel the same way about literature and art.
Beer? I haven’t a clue. And I’m willing to bet that 90% of the beer drinking market can’t tell the difference either. Actually, I’d say 98% of the mainstream beer drinking market and perhaps 80% of the craft beer market.
But that doesn’t mean I believe my partners are wrong to spend money on improving the quality of their beers. Spending a reasonable amount of time and money on improving your products is always a good idea. (I’ve talked about this before. And I will again.)
When you are launching your business, you should spend the lion’s share of your time and money on learning how to package, market, and sell your product. Your top priority as a Stage One business owner is discovering how to acquire customers at the right cost.
After that, you should spend increasingly more time improving everything about your product, even if most of your prospective customers can’t tell the difference. And you must do it out of a philosophical commitment to your customer, not because you believe he will appreciate each and every little change.
What you should also do, and you should do this strongly, is advertise the quality of your product. You must never stop promoting the idea that your product is great and getting better.
You must do that precisely because most of your customers can’t make that determination themselves!
Here is an amusing take on this fact – a funny prank that Payless pulled: