OK, here’s a story about the importance of using myths, or stories, to market product. Yeah, I know, the idea of Las Vegas as a myth is not exactly a big “eureka!” moment, but it does demonstrate that even in a fantasy town marketers need to be reminded of the importance of the myth in the marketing process.
The New York Times ran this article about using stories to sell sake in their Dining and Wine section, but it really belongs in their Business section.
Las Vegas “whales”, as big gamblers are known in Las Vegas, come to town on Chinese New Year to celebrate and they celebrate in a very big way. Part of the celebration is showing, and enjoying, their success, and that involves having the best of everything, including the best food and drink. In keeping with that theme, Las Vegas restaurants look for something special and expensive to serve, something that is not easily found anywhere else in the world, and at the moment that product is sake.
Sake suppliers and restaurateurs have rediscovered that a great story sells higher priced product, so they now have stories about all their sake. Some stories parallel Hollywood movies:
- strains of rice that were thought extinct until small batches were discovered and saved with new growing techniques – Jurassic Park
- the prodigy sake brewer (yes, sake is brewed, like beer) raised from a young age to become a master and carry on a tradition – Kung Fu Panda
- the ancient sake company, around for over 800 years, that is saved by the new owner – The Santa Clause
Yes, these are ridiculous movie comparisons. But that’s the point, they develop and use the myth to enhance the product. When myth is not enough, there are special names evocative of Asian philosophy and poetry: Ice Dome, Devine Droplets, Ancient Beauty.
There is really nothing new here, the Las Vegas crowd is just applying standard marketing techniques to create and enhance brand image in a commodity market. Rosser Reeves invented the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) in the 1940’s to help focus attention on finding the most important product attribute and then build the myth on that attribute. Patent medicine peddlers of the 1800’s crowed about all the ills their miracle would cure and regularly cured someone in the crowd of their infirmities.
We can all take a lesson on this and look at how we market our most mundane products. There is always something special about “our” product and we can find the myth that supports our brand over all other brands.