Beer (& More) In Food

Beer: The Condiment With An Attitude!

Is The New-Formula Schlitz Overpriced?

Posted by Bob Skilnik on April 19, 2008

Not having yet seen nor tasted the “Old” Schlitz-formula beer, I still managed to call the pricing of this beer in an earlier post.

“I imagine it will be priced somewhere between a higher-priced craft beer and a great quality pseudo-craft beer like Blue Moon.”

And that seems to be a problem with its sales.  As one liquor store sales manger has noted, label owner Pabst has overpriced it.

Part of the problem, he said, is Pabst’s pricing. At $9.99 for a 12-pack and $5.99 for a six-pack, it’s more expensive than Budweiser, about the same as Michelob and almost as expensive as more upscale brews such as Samuel Adams. “It’s just overpriced,” he said.

And that’s a shame because you know damn well that the only other thing that could give Schlitz a push in sales would be a strong marketing and sales campaign. But this is the Pabst Brewing Co., whose sales luck with its flagship brand has been based on a non-existent ad and/or media campaign, relying instead, on nostalgia and a good mix of shallow-pocketed college kids who look at the “popular-priced (read: cheap)” beer as a God send. In the case of Schlitz, Pabst has decided to position it as an expensive “super-premium” priced beer…and still use no marketing and sales oomph behind the brand.

A few years ago, I organized 2 study groups for a marketing consultant group that was working for Pabst, trying to understand why Old Style sales were so sluggish in Chicago, where it had once ruled supreme. Old Style is another beer in the Pabst Brewing Co.’s portfolio. We came up with a couple of viable options, but many of them began with the opening phrase, “You have to throw more money at the brand,” and when anyone said this, the beer distributors in the group just sighed as their eyes rolled over.

There’s a hell of a lot of baggage behind the demise of Schlitz, detailed in my book, Beer: A History of Brewing in Chicago. Like Old Style before it, Schlitz was Chicago’s #1 selling beer, ignoring Budweiser’s reign as the nation’s top-selling beer. Today, it’s just another beer, unless Pabst gets serious about Schlitz and either runs a pantsload of sales, positioning the beer, or starts running a viable and long-running ad campaign.


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