Mountain Man Brewery Case

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08
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1) What is Mountain Man Brewing Company’s positioning relative to its competitors? Mountain Man Brewing Company brewed a beer called “Mountain Man Lager” beer. “Mountain Man Lager” held the top market position among lagers in West Virginia for almost 50 years. It was also known as “West Virginia’s Beer”. It was a legacy brew in the mature beer brewing business and had managed to maintain a respectable market position in most of the states where the beer was distributed.

“Mountain Man Lager” was a dark colored beer, priced similar to premium domestic brands such as Miller and Budweiser. Its core audience was blue collar, middle-to-lower income men over the age of 45. It was categorized as a second tier domestic producer that had very high brand popularity and brand awareness. “Mountain Man Lager” was known for its quality (smoothness, percent of water content and drinkability) and brand loyalty and sold most (70%) of its beer for off-premise consumption. Blue-collar males, who liked “Mountain Man Lager’s” bitter flavor and slightly higher-than-average alcohol content, formed its main customer base.

2) What factors have contributed to making MMBC a strong brand? A brand can be defined as a “name” or any other feature (trademark) that identifies a seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. Mountain Man Brewing Company had, over more than 50 years, managed to build a very strong and successful brand in the brewing Industry.

Below are the factors that contributed to making MMBC a strong brand: a) Target Audience: MMBC had identified a target audience- Blue-collar males from the middle and lower income classes. The logo of Mountain Man Lager was its 1925 design of a crew of miners printed on the front. b) Built a Perception: MMBC had built a perception that its beer was strong. Its dark color, bitter flavor and slightly higher-than-average alcohol content gave proof that it lived up to its perception. c) Awareness: Over the years, MMBC had built an amazing air of awareness. It was not the most selling brand, but it had won multiple awards for best beer. And even though its sales were down, it had still maintained a very high level of awareness among the beer drinking community. d) Built brand loyalty: By providing quality, maintaining its authenticity and keeping true to its single exclusive brew, MMBC had built a strong brand Loyalty, which was the Best among all the brewing companies.

3) What factors have contributed to the decline of MMBC?
Data from the past few years (2001 to 2005) clearly shows that newer trends have begun to emerge. In this period, MMBC has continued to sell its flagship product “Mountain Man Lager”; however the newer trends have finally started to catch up and MMBC finds its sales are started going down by 2% each year. Even though the profit margin is the same, there is a huge concern about the sales going down.

The reasons for decline in sales are:
a) There has been a surge in the popularity of the Light beer brands. Light beer sales are expected to increase by 4% each year, whereas the traditional beer sales are expected to decline by 4%. b) “Mountain Man Lager” is perceived to be a “working man’s” drink and the younger generation is not able to identify with this brand. MMBC is considered as authentic brand that their parents and grand parents drink, which is strong. c) Although the Mountain Man Brewing Company had the traditional stronghold in the East central region, the craft and import beer brands were also gaining a hold in this area. d) Various states had also removed old laws that limited the promotion of beer in retail establishments. Thus retail stores started storing beers. The Big brewing companies started adding pressure on MMBC by advertising and reducing costs. e) The MMBC customer base (45+ males) was aging and their market share was shrinking. Therefore, MMBC struggled...
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