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I’m a Kentucky boy and a bourbon lover, so I was highly tuned in when, on Feb. 9,  Marker’s Mark announced that it would be cutting its 45 percent ABV (alcohol by volume) down to 42 percent ABV to meet the global demand for the brand’s product.

Even when the company defended that the taste of its bourbon wouldn’t change, the brand was only met with an increase in the firestorm of negativity on social media networks.

What Maker’s Mark announced wasn’t at all unheard of. In fact, in 2004, Jack Daniel’s lowered the proof of its whiskey from 86 to 80 to increase production and meet demand. Facebook was but a mere babe, and Twitter didn’t exist, so this type of news was very slow to spread and certainly didn’t amplify as it does in today’s era. Wild Turkey, and more than a few other spirit brands, have done the same in the past to very little backlash.

But this is 2013, and everyone has an opinion, and that opinion is easy to broadcast. When these types of PR hits happen, it is CRUCIAL to actually be able to measure the volume of these conversations. Is the volume of conversation rising? Is it decreasing? What is the sentiment around the conversation? Are people angry? Are the audience members passionate and are they adding their own opinion to the conversation, or are they just retweeting an article?

On Feb. 17, Maker’s Mark announced the brand was listening to its customers and WOULD NOT cut the ABV. Great, Maker’s Mark made its base happy again. Still, as you can see in the graph below, conversation around the topic was nearly dead. We move on pretty quickly these days. Maker’s Mark had already weathered the storm. The brand likely could have stuck with its initial decision and walked away with billions more in global revenue. Sure, the brand looks like a good guy for listening to its audience, but now Maker’s Mark has made this decision and there is likely no going back.

You can’t speed up the six years it takes bourbon to age, and without water as a tool to stretch the supply, Maker’s Mark is only left with the option of increasing its price point so it can create more revenue to increase the production capacity, and that increase in production capacity will take a minimum of four years to have an effect on its supply.

Maker’s Mark has misjudged social media twice now. The brand obviously wasn’t tapped into how passionate its audience would be toward the initial announcement, and now the brand has overreacted to the audience’s reaction.

Steer clear of this pitfall. Raidious has the tools and skills to monitor and measure all the online conversations around your brand, in real-time. Raidious can manage your reputation as well as put a crisis response plan into place so that your brand is fully aware of your online surroundings, helping you to avoid the same mistake.

Interested in learning more? Contact us today.

2 Responses

  1. I’m a big bourbon fan and actually use to work for the agency that handles Maker’s Mark. I would be up in arms too and I’m surprised it took so long to address their customers.

  2. Pingback : Maker's Mark Has Social Under A Barrel - More Branch Water, Please! | Marketing Technology Blog

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