Monday, February 27, 2012

What Were They Thinking

Why try to improve on a perfect product and brand name. Crown Royal tried and failed. The new product is Crown Royal Black. When I first heard about the new product, I wondered how much better could "Black" be versus the non-Black.

When I did an internet search, I found at the Crown Royal site that Crown Royal Black is "A bolder, darker and more robust whiskey blended at 90 proof, yet with the signature smoothness of Crown Royal. It has a deeper oak background with dark, sweet, maple notes and a light vanilla flavor towards the finish."

In chats with others who knew that Crown Royal was a favored liquor for me, I was told that it was a sipping bourbon. Don't care for bourbon and that was the end of any thoughts about Crown Royal Black. Until...

A road acquaintance passed through town on his way back east. Knowing my tastes, Jim brought me a bottle of Crown Royal Black. I apologized that since I wasn't a bourbon drinker, I was probably not going to enjoy it. Perhaps he could give it to another who liked bourbon. Nothing doing. It was a gift. I thanked him for his generosity as we continued our conversation about his new Sportsmobile.

Jim left me with the gift on my table: the bottle of Crown Royal Black sitting in a black box and the bottle was in a black bag. Since it was there, I decided I would do a taste test that afternoon at my personal social hour before dinner.

Four o'clock arrived. The routine was the same as if I was drinking the original Crown Royal. Got out a glass. Put a half dozen ice cubes in the glass. Poured a single shot (the usual is two shots) of the Crown Royal Black into the glass and sat down at the table. Took a sip. Sure tasted like bourbon to me. I don't like bourbon. Could never make that smooth enough for me. Took a second sip. Wasn't getting any better.

Took the glass to the sink and poured it down the drain. Rinsed out the glass and poured the real stuff. Much much better.

Good news is that I found one of my RVing neighbors in the park likes bourbon. So I re-gifted the Crown Royal Black. After tasting it, he said it reminded him of a bottled Manhatten. That reminded me of the words from the Crown Royal site: "...deeper oak background with dark, sweet, maple notes and a light vanilla flavor". Seems the marketing hype got that right.

If the Crown Royal market experts had checked with their existing customers, they would have found out that their customers drink Crown Royal because they don't like bourbon.

Was any market research done for this new product. Perhaps none. Could it have been the new company president who liked bourbon. It was a directive from the power seat. So there was the new product taking advantage of the cachet of the Crown Royal name.

Really. What were they thinking.


  1. LOL... or perhaps STM (Snicker To Myself)
    Sorry... thats all Ive got. The post made me smile.

  2. "Really. What were they thinking. "

    Perhaps better phrased...

    Really. What were they NOT thinking.

  3. Maybe they were thinking that their existing customers would keep drinking Crown Royal and the could snag some boubon drinkers as new customers! Business isn't about maintaining the status quo. (That's what retirement's for!!!)

    Wayne from PA

  4. Glad you tried it! Didn't sound like you were going to at the beginning of the story...

    I read this, and was compelled to respond...
    I like Wayne's comment; the company just increased their customer base with a new offering, "Crown Royal Black".

    To quote Henry Ford, he said something like, "Had I asked people what they wanted, they would have said they wanted a faster horse."

    Asking customers doesn't seem to yield the innovations we have experienced like the car, ipod, ipad... and in this case "Crown Royal Black".