American icons win Stars ‘N’ Stripes: Samuel Adams beer cracks US ‘patriots’ list


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Samuel Adams Boston Lager: A hit among US patriots (Francisco Antunes/Flickr)
Samuel Adams Boston Lager: A hit among US patriots (Francisco Antunes/Flickr)

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Coca-Cola, Gatorade and Boston Beer Company brand Samuel Adams have all made the Top 10 in a new consumer survey by Brand Keys of America’s most patriotic brands, but Pepsi failed to reach even the Top 25 for the second year running.

Research outfit Brand Keys assessed 225 brands to identify which were most closely associated with the value of patriotism, and recently listed its Top 25.

Appealing to patriotic feeling is obviously a cute move for beverage brand marketers, as they can associate their products with the national flag and pride during days like July 4 – Independence Day.

Cue marching bands (brands?) and majorettes, Uncle Sam lookalikes, and patriotic beer bottle designs. A cynical sales ploy? Perhaps. But it works, and consumers do engage with such brands emotionally – even if they’re conscious of the fact that they’re being, well, engaged.

Explaining that brand engagement is emotional rather than rational, Brand Keys said it surveyed 4,680 consumers aged 16 to 65 to evaluate 35 values, one of which was patriotism.

Flag waving only goes so far, but it’s a start…

Robert Passikoff, founder and president of Brand Keys, said: “When it comes to engaging with the consumers, waving an American flag and actually having an authentic foundation for being able to wave the flag are two entirely different things and the consumer knows it.”

“More importantly, believability is key to the engagement paradigm. The more engaged a consumer is with a particular emotional value and the associated brand, the more likely they’ll trust that emotion and act positively on that belief.”

Percentage scores for the Top 50 Patriotic brands in the US indicated ‘engagement strength’ for the individual value of patriotism versus an ideal of 100% – Passikoff said only the US armed services receive scores that high.

In passing, we should mention that car manufacturer Jeep topped the list with a 98% score followed by jean producer Levi-Strauss – but Coke came third with 95%, followed by (in the beverage arena) Gatorade and Samuel Adams (85%), Budweiser (84%), Coors (81%) and Jack Daniels (75%). 

Dr Pepper falls out of patriotic favor

Dr Pepper fell out of the list after last year’s 23rd​ place listing, while Boston Beer Company brand Samuel Adams was the surprise new high-placed entrant at No.11, where it sits beside Gatorade. Pepsi didn't make the Top 25 - either this year or in 2013.

Passikoff said Brand Keys was criticised for including brands in 2013 that do not manufacture in the United States – clearly seen by some as non-patriotic – but said this related to the rational side of decision making.

“One thing marketers should have learned about brands over the past couple of decades is that those brands that can make an emotional connection with the consumer always have a strategic advantage over competitors,”​ he said.

Brand Keys wasn’t saying that other brands not on the list were ‘unpatriotic’, Passikoff said, acknowledging that being ​an American company, being ‘Made in the USA’ or having nationally directed CSR activities and sponsorships was important.

“But if you want to differentiate via brand values, especially one this emotional – if there is believability, good marketing just gets better,”​ Passikoff said.

Coincidentally, happy July 4 to our US readers from!

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