J&B Case Analysis

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  • Topic: Whisky, Scotch whisky, Single malt Scotch
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  • Published : October 7, 2007
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J&B Case Analysis

The May 16, 2000 Harvard Business case describes how J&B Scotch has suffered from sluggish sales since the 1970's. Once the best selling whisky in its class, J&B was now losing share and volume in a declining category. The author, Grant McCracken, goes on to say that the long term prospect is grim. Something needed to happen to boost sales for this once thriving brand. The article introduces you to Michael Stoner, VP and Product Group Director for the Schieffelin & Somerset Co. He was in charge of getting the J&B brand back on track and once again following a profitable path. He believed it came down to a question of figuring out what had gone right in the glory days, what had gone wrong in the 1970's and whether and where there was a chance to revive the brand. He has his work cut out for him.

The Problems Facing the Brand
In the 1970's the typical Scotch drinker was between 40-50 years old. There was a certain stigma that came along with enjoying the brown liquor. You were most likely conservative and among society's upper-crust. But, with the Vietnam War and the post WW II baby "boom" changing the demographics, a dramatic shift in popular culture arose. People started to frown on excess. Less was better. And in this new cultural context, Scotch fared badly. Before the 1970's people hadn't given much thought to the effects of alcohol on their health or whether they should get behind the wheel. The tide was turning and the medical community offered new research on the health risks of drinking. And new laws were passed to encourage people to drink responsibly, and encourage cities and states to act appropriately or risk losing government funding. Drinkers were turning their backs on the "brown spirits". They began to suppose that beer and wine were somehow gentler than Scotch and other liquors. As the culture changed its attitude towards alcohol, Scotch seemed to take the biggest hit,...
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