Last week I drank a great many beers. I wasn’t on a bender and although I drank over 50 beers in a couple days, the amount was typically an ounce or less of each. I was attending the Great American Beer Fest and some related events.
I tried some extraordinary but esoteric beers that you’ve never heard of and would be hard pressed to find for purchase. They were beers brewed in small amounts and made available in limited release.
“Brooklyn Reinschweinsgebot: This is a brown ale aged for nine months in Woodford Reserve Bourbon barrels. This beer has then been “fat-washed” with fat rendered from Benton’s Country Smokehouse Bacon. Allan Benton also produced a smoked malt for this beer and a special strong ale was brewed from it. The fat-washed/barrel-aged beer was blended with the bacon-smoked beer and the blend was re-fermented in the bottle with Champagne yeast. Only 20 cases were ever made.”
It might sound odd but it tasted delicious.
So here’s the question: would you rather have the “best” product in your category or the bestselling?
Understandably, it is difficult to determine what of anything is truly best (there is no accounting for taste). I can tell you, however, that some of the bestselling brands aren’t best by a long shot. A liquor that I’m familiar with claims to be the world’s bestseller and many make the leap that it must therefore be the best. It isn’t. It scores well but not particularly high in its category.
More often than not–and this is based on observation rather than hard data–the most successful brands find a sweet spot between best and bestselling. These brands find a way to offer quality that is appreciated by a large enough group of buyers that the brand is profitable. If the product’s attributes are too specific and narrow, there isn’t a critical mass of buyers. If the attributes are too generic and broad, you may sell a large amount but it will be to a mass market.
Sure, there are bragging rights to being best, even if the claim is difficult to substantiate. But few of us want to have a terrific product that only a few buy and appreciate.
The challenge, therefore, isn’t whether to pursue best or bestselling. The challenge is to have a product deemed by many to be among the best; a product those people repeatedly buy and tell others about.