Creating a business and winning the love of customers is hard work; however, maintaining interest in and demand for the company’s products is an even more serious challenge. The fact that there are not many companies that have been successfully operating for centuries in the world is evidence of this statement. Guinness is one of these companies as it managed to create a qualitative product that has become traditional, and at the same time, maintain an up-to-date marketing strategy to attract customers. For this purpose, Guinness revised its marketing approaches and took a not-so-obvious step for this situation as it created a new visitor’s center for the company (Kirsner, 2002).
This change contributed to the opening of new communication channels and opportunities. Consequently, the main lesson of the Guinness case study in Ireland is that understanding the desire of your target audience, well-built marketing communication, and bold decisions are often key to the success of the company.
Article about the Changes
An article about the changes that Guinness decided to take to regain its influence in the Irish market and the demand for its products shows the application of many marketing aspects in one simple solution. Kirsner (2002) notes that in the early 2000s, Guinness beer sales fell 3%, since the younger generation began to associate this drink with something that related to older people. This feature is known in marketing and is explained by the psychological peculiarity of young people because of which they begin to consider any product that is good for older people as bad for themselves (Kotler & Keller, 2015). For this reason, Guinness needed to change its strategy to make its beer attractive for youth and not to push away the older generation.
Outmoded Visitors’ Center in Dublin
One successful solution was to redesign their outmoded visitors’ center in Dublin. As a result, the old building has become a mecca for tourists, locals, and new employees as it combines a museum, conference rooms, training centers, restaurants, bars, cafes, an art gallery, and an event space. (Kirsner, 2002). Such a variety of places in one building, together with the events held by Guinness and their traditional product, helped to attract young people to the company’s culture and preserve its atmosphere and history.
I have learned a few lessons about marketing and communications from this story. Firstly, a clear goal setting, precisely attracting a young audience and retaining the older generation, demonstrates that Guinness carefully analyzed the market and found its strengths and weaknesses. Its power is a long success story, which positively affects her reputation and confirms the quality of products. In other words, tradition is one of the main advantages of Guinness, which also attracts and retains older drinkers and regular customers. In addition, as noted by Kotler and Keller (2015), “Consumers are better educated and better informed than ever, and they have the tools to verify companies’ claims and seek out superior alternatives “(150). Guinness understood this feature and did not take its customers for granted, so it did not try to use classic advertising tricks and play solely on emotions. Therefore, the company needed to find another solution to attract its customers.
This aspect demonstrates the second lesson that I have learned on the importance of marketing communication and the right choice for its implementation. Guinness, in this case, analyzed of its target audience and understood that their preferences and tastes are not based on the quality or taste of beer but their attitude to the product in general. This conclusion was most likely facilitated by customer value analysis, which determined the most critical aspects of the product, since, without this information, the company would not have been able to evaluate the problematic elements (Kotler & Keller, 2015).
Besides, the fact that Guinness sales in Ireland still fell by 3% demonstrates the importance of monitor customer values over time, since preferences change with the development of culture. At the same time, the company wanted to keep the history and atmosphere in its center as in traditional Irish pubs, where strangers became friends after a pint of beer. For this reason, I can see that the company chose events and experiences, as well as public relations as a communication channel.
Channel of Communication
The first channel of communication is expressed in the creation of a public space for events, their organization, and the bar itself, in which visitors can feel the culture of Ireland and communicate. For example, people who visited Storehouse also receive a free drink with their ticket, and one of the bartenders notes: “It’s not just a ticket. It starts conversations.” (Kirsner, 2002, para. 8). Kotler and Keller (2015) also confirm that customers feel more engaged in the brand if they participate in live events. Thus, the creation of a new format for the Guinness visitor’s center was the beginning of building communication with a broad audience, and modern events, such as artwork exhibitions, showed young people that Guinness is good for any adult.
The justified risks that Guinness has taken also demonstrate that bold decisions, combined with an understanding of the basics of marketing, always bring positive results. Kotler and Keller (2015) note, “Companies can even create a strong image by inviting prospects and customers to visit their headquarters and factories” (228). Guinness executives took this information or the experience of other companies as a basis but added freshness, which their target audience needed, to it. This project, created on a napkin, carried risks, since the creation of a new center and a three-day event required significant investments (Kirsner, 2002). There is also always a chance that the idea will not be successful; however, the results of the company show that thorough analysis, a bit of determination, and good luck are integral components of any project.
Moreover, the creation of a new visitors’ center made it possible to strengthen and create public relations, since it could satisfy the demand of almost all stakeholders. Bars, restaurants, and museums benefit to the interests of customers as they can enjoy beer and the atmosphere of the center. The art gallery and event space can serve both to attract potential customers and the public good; for example, organization charity and educational events in there. Conference halls and training centers contribute to increasing communication with company employees, their competence, and loyalty. In addition, the ability of employees to get their knowledge and skills from the best specialists in the heart of the company, as well as communicate with managers is a good managerial decision. This approach allows employees to understand the company’s culture and its values more quickly and effectively and improve their quality of work.
All these aspects are part of such marketing communication as public relations as they help to promote or protect the image of the company. For example, conducting trainings or social events for employees directly in the center shows the interest of the company in their employees, and the use of the event space for charity is Guinness’s contribution to society. Both examples relate to the social responsibility of the company and help it build its positive image (Kotler & Keller, 2015). Thus, the Guinness case demonstrates the successful combination of two communication channels with relatively little effort and cost.
In conclusion, the Guinness case demonstrates that marketing communication and the right choice of channel for its implementation is one of the decisive aspects of running a successful business. In Guinness’s situation, such channels were the creation of events and experience, as well as the development of public relations, which the company managed to implement by opening a new visitor’s center. Undoubtedly, behind this choice is the company’s understanding of its target audience, its own capabilities, and the market, since, without this information, any marketing solution has increased risks of failure.
However, the making of bold but thoughtful decisions is one of the most crucial factors that help companies to remain competitive and successful in the market. In addition, the Guinness story has shown that any business requires adaptation to new conditions and changing customer values; however, this fact does not mean that traditions and classic methods should be reclined completely. Thus, I find this case study highly educational, since it shows that a thoughtful and scientific approach to the problem can create the most beneficial ways to its solving.
Kirsner, S. (2002). Brand marketing: Guinness. Fast Company. Web.
Kotler, P., & Keller, K. (2015). Marketing management (15th ed.). London, Pearson.