If you’re like me, you’ve thought of Grey Goose as the best of the best when it comes to vodka. It’s only when I got into advertising that I realized there was a marketing machine behind the Grey Goose story to make us all think that.
Grey Goose was the brain child of an American businessman named Sidney Frank. Fun fact: Jagermeister was one of his first products. The name Grey Goose actually comes from a German white wine that Frank was importing. He liked the name so much that when he decided he wanted to create a “premium” vodka, he already had the name. In fact, Frank created the Grey Goose brand before a drop of the vodka had ever been distilled. The cornerstone of that brand: Luxury.
The truth is that vodka is a grain-neutral spirit. It’s odorless. It’s tasteless. Even if people say they can taste a difference in the pure liquor, it’s highly unlikely they can taste the difference with the vodka is in a Cosmo. People think Grey Goose is the best because Frank said it was the best. And a few key things supported his story:
It comes from France. Frank did not want another vodka from Russia. He wanted a vodka that people would think of as special and high-end. Hence, France. Grey Goose uses water from pristine French springs, filtered through Champagne limestone. It sounds fancy, right?
It is shipped in wood crates, like a fine wine, not in cardboard boxes. This says “quality” to the bartender, who then puts it on the top shelf. Patrons see it there on the top shelf and when they want the best, they ask for it.
It has a beautiful bottle. We all know it–the smoked glass, the silhouette of flying geese. It looks great in a bar. Most importantly, it looks expensive.
It is expensive. While you may think this would deter people, it actually reinforces the luxury of the product. They think, “If it costs that much, it must be good.” People want luxury. They are willing to pay for it.
The Grey Goose brand story is one of the most interesting because of its success, and the longevity of that success. Arguably, the product itself is not any better than other vodkas. But, thanks to clever marketing, we all think it is. And that’s all that matters.