Some well-meaning follower posted on our Facebook page this answer to a press release referring to Espolón tequila…
“PSA: “super premium” has no real meaning—it’s marketing happy talk.”
While we’re inclined to believe that sneaky marketers have hijacked the word premium and turned it into a buzzword, in all actuality, it is a spirits pricing term.
As we pointed out in our feature, Craft Tequila: WTF Does THAT Mean? Part 2, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), the national trade association and lobbyist representing the leading producers and marketers of distilled spirits in the United States, separates all booze into four categories–
Value, Premium, High End Premium and Super Premium. [Note the absence of the term, Ultra Premium.]
The confusion stems from the fact that DISCUS lists the price points of each particular spirit by supplier revenue per case, not by retail price per bottle.
It is DISCUS’ industry-focused terms that are the culprit, and marketers have indelibly embedded premium into consumer’s minds like an embarrassing tattoo on a mixologist’s forearm.
Think Like a Marketer
[Warning: You might want to shower after this segment.]
Webster’s Online Dictionary defines premium as “a price that is higher than the regular price.”
Want to think like a marketer?
Then, run premium through Webster’s Thesaurus and inhale deeply as if you’ve just stumbled upon a secret cava filled to the ceiling with barrels of resting añejos.
Revel in the treasure trove of descriptors like Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now.
A Stroll Down the Tequila Aisle
Now that you’ve toweled off, take a look at DISCUS’ 2015 Industry Review Supplemental Tables, here.
Scroll to the section titled Distilled Spirits Pricing Categories and notice the names listed under Major Brands, especially those in the Tequila segment.
Bear in mind that all spirits categories are measured by how well or badly the Big Boys are performing. Your preferred craft label may not even be mentioned.
Now, pretend you’re in the Tequila Aisle of your favorite liquor store and ask yourself–
Would I buy this tequila?
Whether your answer is yes or no, determine where your preferred tequila brand is priced and pigeonholed.
Value, Premium, High End Premium and Super Premium.
Are they within a few bucks of the Usual Suspects, or are they completely out of your ballpark?
By the way, if you’re drinking at the Ultra Premium range, I have swamp land in Arizona that I’d like to unload, er, sell to you.
Falling For Marketing Happy Talk
Next, just for kicks and giggles, take a gander at DISCUS’ US Tequila Market at a Glance, here.
Look closely at the astronomical growth of the High End Premium and Super Premium divisions since 2002-2003. This trend even has a name–
Premiumisation. How’s that for a buzzword?
Depending on which categories your favorite tequilas land, are you comfortable paying those prices?
Put another way–
Are you happy for supporting the Big Boys all these years?
Remember, there is no shame in sipping value tequilas. We won’t judge you. When in doubt, turn to our Sipping Off The Cuff(c) episodes to help with your buying decisions.
Reach for that box of tissues, pour yourself a craft tequila, and vow never again to fall for the marketing happy talk.