The answer, wholesalers and beer-marketing experts said, is likely found in marketing activity that occurred long before the current recession. Back in 2004, Pabst executed a highly effective word-of-mouth campaign that made the long-declining brand an “ironic downscale chic” choice for bike messengers and other younger drinkers who viewed the beer as a statement of non-mainstream taste. PBR sales surged by nearly 17% that year, and have climbed at single-digit rates since, until this year, when the recession sent its sales soaring as more drinkers were pushed into the subpremium category.
Think of it as conspicuous downscale consumption, or something like it.
“There’s still a bit of hipness to it,” said Benj Steinman, editor of Beer Marketer’s Insights. “Of all the subpremiums, it’s got a little more cache.”
“It’s an anti-establishment badge,” added a major market wholesaler. “It seems to play to the retro, nonconformist crowd pretty well.”
I’ve seen it myself: people in their 20’s like this beer. Might be rubbing off on others now. In fact, I might try it myself this weekend. $25 for a case of Heineken at the local Costco is a bit much. Time to reset my beer budget.
When I first noticed PBR was hip, I thought it might — MIGHT — have been sparked by its being featured in David Lynch’s 1986 film “Blue Velvet.” That’s good product placement…