On February 11, 2013 Beam Inc. announced that they would be lowering the alcohol content in their Maker’s Mark bourbon by 3% to 84 proof instead of the standard 90 proof. The dilution of the alcohol content was intended to address a supply issue. Makers Mark sales increased by 14% in 2011 and 15% in 2012. The plan was that Makers Mark would temporarily lower the alcohol content to keep up with the increase in sales while at the same time expand their distillery operations. However, Makers forgot to account for the customer backlash.
Bourbon drinkers flocked to the internet in droves to voice their outrage at the watering down of their product. To the customers delight Maker’s Mark promptly issued a statement. “Over this past week we have been extremely humbled by the overwhelming response. Our customers have spoken loud and clear and we have heard them. Effective immediately, we are returning to 90 proof, which it has always been since we started. We are starting that tomorrow morning at the distillery (Rob Samuels).” Ultimately the decision means that customers would occasionally rather put up with a shortage or a price hike then have the quality of their product diminish.
As a strategic sourcer and procurement provider this is something that you must always keep in mind when sourcing a product. Ultimately both the client and the end user must be satisfied with the product. It’s a fairly simply philosophy if the end user of the product is not satisfied they will no longer want to buy it. You can’t just diminish the quality of a product and expect the same results. Just like in this case many times the customer would rather pay more or occasionally deal with supply issues then have their product tampered with.