One of the things that drives historians (well, this historian anyway) crazy is that people just refuse to learn from history — no matter how much precedent there is for a situation where doing X results in Unpleasant Consequence Y, we just go ahead and do X anyway, expecting that the outcome won’t be total shit and that anyway, Times Are Different.
Example: when Coca-Cola tried to change Coke into New Coke back in the mid-1980s — because The Market Has Changed, And We Need To Move With The Times — a storm of furious resistance from their loyal consumers forced them to recant and relaunch Coke as Classic Coke, going back to the same old formulation of super-sweet battery acid that the world had come to know and love. (New Coke, eventually, went the way of its erstwhile spokesman Bill Cosby.)
The Coca-Cola fiasco should be taught in business schools everywhere, and should be an integral part of any company’s training in marketing. It’s not the first time it happened, of course; but it was one of the more illuminating examples of leaving your established brand alone, and all the more notable because it involved a mere carbonated soft drink, surely one of the most irrelevant and disposable products ever invented.
Clearly, the Coke fiasco has either been forgotten or willfully ignored, because:
Stella Artois owners Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I say they’ve lowered the alcohol content in its canned, draft and gluten-free versions to capitalise on the popularity of “wellness trends”.
It last cut ABV from 5% to 4.8% in 2012 citing “evolving” drinking trends in the UK.
Let’s not forget the role of the bean-counters:
But the move is said to have saved previous brewers AB inBev up to £8.6million a year in duty, according to alcoholpolicy.net.
And the result?
The latest reduction has left beer lovers fuming and sparked a surge in one star reviews across supermarket websites from customers.
In a scathing review on Tesco’s website, the person wrote: “Today I cracked open a can of Stella 4.6% and thought I had Covid, since I could not taste anything.”
I have no dog in this fight: Stella Artois has always been my supporting argument when I state that contrary to popular belief, the Belgians know fuck-all about making a decent beer*.
It appears that they know fuck-all about marketing the foul stuff, either.
*As I recall, the Belgies were the first to start adding fruit flavors to their beer, which just proves my point.