phil just sent me a piece in the NYT about the marketing of superpremium booze. i have a fair amount of firsthand experience with liquor salespeople and their aggressive techniques, and the bottom line is they play to peoples’ vulnerabilities at moments when their defensive filters are weakest.
By all accounts, the superpremium spirits craze was started by the late Sidney Frank, owner of the New York drinks importer that created Grey Goose vodka in 1997.
His idea was to build a sophisticated image, beginning with a price of about $10 a bottle more than the market leader Absolut. He gave away bottles at high-profile charity events and managed to get them placed in limousines of Hollywood stars.
He picked France as the source of his vodka, he said, because Ã¢â‚¬Å“the best things come from France.Ã¢â‚¬Â And he chose a frosted bottle with a two-panel image featuring flying birds.
Sales took off, and Grey Goose soon caught the attention of other competitors. Bacardi, the rum giant, bought the brand in 2004 for almost $2.3 billion.
sidney frank was the best promoter in the business, and reading a bit about him will give you a feel for what you are REALLY buying when your eye wanders up to the top shelf these days.