A to Z of Marketing: Y - Yuengling
Yes, I like a good beer, especially one with character. Nothing compares to an ice cold, complex ale with a great aroma and a long finish. But that's not why I am telling you about Yuengling.
This is America's oldest beer, brewed in a very humble (take that to mean real) location--Pottsville, Pennsylvania. It remains a family-owned business, dating back to 1829, and is run by a real, hands-on, shirtsleeves-rolled-up sort of owner, Dick Yuengling. He is not a paper-thin, glamorous PR superstar. How cool is that!
And that is a perfect segue into the marketing significance. The story here is that Yuengling is real. It is genuine. The brand and its products reflect the personality, commitment and style of its owners. Yeungling is a brand that is rooted in reality. And in today's over-hyped, glitz-and-glamour, built-to-flip world, real brands are refreshing. Yuengling has steadliy grown its sales over the past decade (more than 25% in fact) without flashy advertising and without hype.
So how has this brand become noteworthy? How has Yuengling grown? Why do I even know about it? (Aside from the fact that I have a couple good friends from Eastern Pa.) Why does my buddy Kerry refer to it as "that golden nectar"? Well, there are a few good reasons.
Primarily, the company has been consistently dedicated to making a great quality of beer. That's the first part. Secondly, Yuengling has had the courage and vision to innovate. No, they have not changed rapidly or whimsically; instead they have changed strategically. For example, to survive Prohibition, it switched production to "almost beer." And when competitors began mass producing lighter beers, Yuengling spotted an opening and filled the niche by introducing more flavorful, richer brews. Finally, Yuengling has benefited from some well-deserved and long overdue earned media coverage. The chart above shows the huge rise in awareness of this brand when a New York Times feature was published (May 2005).
So what's the lesson here? Reality reigns supreme. Consistently great brands prevail. Slow, steady growth sustains companies and brands over decades. That's real success. And that is real great beer!