Oktoberfest interrupts beer supply
Namibia is a country which has a strong relationship with its beer. I have an enjoyable relationship with it as much as any other beverage. It’s a useful way to unwind among friends. I don’t drink at home, so I make the trek to my local pub, where they serve it to me from the tap. Unfortunately, last week the barrels came to a halt. That made me very edgy, and also made me wonder why questions weren’t asked in parliament.
One version says the sudden scarcity of barrels was something to do with some or other festival. I’ll choose not to believe that, because nobody should close off product supply to regulars, for a festival. I might choose to believe that it was some kind of equipment failure or maybe catastrophic circumstances in the delivery of barley. Feedback from a friend though says there was no interruption of production, so I will take it as a flimsy excuse for ordering failure.
My irritable reaction to the circumstances brought home to me the concept of the brand as a relationship. I am not a person who pins myself on brands much, so it is useful to have moments like this, to observe my own emotional response.
The idea of the brand as a relationship considers the emotional response of the user to the product. That emotional response is not discrete in time. People who, for instance, choose a brand of clothing, may hypothetically do so because it makes them feel rebellious or young. That moment of emotion is repeated regularly whenever the person puts on those clothes. The person wants to feel young and rebellious all the time.
Using the hypothetical example of the clothes, the wearer may feel rebellious and young when making the purchase, and this is very important, but the product has to produce the same emotional results consciously and subconsciously for the expected lifespan of the product. However this is a generalisation, and something newer with stronger emotional associations may come along to replace the product.
The point with the clothes is that they are worn repeatedly. The emotional content of wearing them is repeated. It’s the same with the beer that suddenly wasn’t there.
The emotional relationship justifies the purchase. If the emotion is absent, the product is, or is close to, a commodity. If the relationship is interrupted there is plenty of room for upset, and possibly negative emotions.
The inherent emotion is a bottom line concept. The repeat of the emotion is a bottom line matter as well.
If the bottom line is important or worth preserving, there are tactics that should be considered. Most obvious of these are securing raw materials, equipment and human resources, and making sure of the ability to replace them at very short notice, if and when a failure occurs. If the product is purchased regularly, plan in advance for interruptions and rotate out of a stockpile.
If the capability to replace or stockpile doesn’t exist, communicate. Part of my aggravation was not knowing why the tap was dry and when it would run again? A simple explanation to the bar manager would have been enough to get the information to me.
There are times when products have to change or be discontinued. This should be dealt with in two ways. Firstly the change should be gradual to allow for adjustment on the part of the consumer. It is probably also worth running the new product alongside the old product to allow the consumer to replace the product. Secondly, if the change is not gradual it should be communicated well in advance with sound reasons.
Supply does not just affect the emotions surrounding the product, Consumers are smart enough to disassociate their brands from the suppliers or manufacturers of products. If the product is handled well, the supplier or producer will be held in high regard, alongside brands.
If not, the supplier or producer, and associated brands, will become distrusted.
Keep supply of the brand consistent for more predictable results. Cheers.