When it came to beer and liquor in the '70s, '80s and '90s, Americans had some favorites, but few options. American-brewed beers, namely lagers, were the most popular and no one was asking for any different. Perhaps there was division between fans of light and full-bodied, but for the most part, everyone drank about the same thing distributed by three major brands.
Around the turn of the century, everything began to change and has continued to ever since. Small craft breweries took off, Americans developed a larger palate for wine and trendy new types of flavored liquors also hit the market. It would seem that Americans had totally turned away from the country's offering of lagers in favor of new alcohol products.
Contrary to everything else that was happening with beer in the country, Pabst Blue Ribbon, a company with sales at an all-time low in 2001, exploded over the course of the next 12 years. According to Quartz, PBR or Pabst Brewing Company is now for sale and expected to fetch as much as $1 billion. Americans drank 200 percent more PBR in 2012 than they did in 2003, and the brand surpassed Coors in volume sales in 2006.
The beer's popularity was mostly in response to its low price and relative obscurity by the early 2000s. Quartz reported that the lack of advertising and rebranding brought the beer to the attention of certain social groups, and it quickly took off from there. Pabst had to do little except sit back and watch. While other major breweries were struggling to keep up with changing American palettes, Pabst, in a way, just didn't fix a product that was broken.
Consumer Demand is Hard to Predict
While a unique, fun story, PBR's success over the last decade is indicative of the bizarre ways that consumer interests, trends and culture can impact supply and demand for a product. Consumers control the market in nearly every industry today. As tastes change, people immediately look for something new. Instead of waiting for successful companies to deliver it, consumers can quickly take a niche startup and make it a national brand.
If companies are suddenly noticing a large increase in demand, it's never too early to enlist the help of automated data collection tools. As demand increases and fluctuates, the ability to keep inventory accurate and deliveries on time will be nearly impossible with old, paper-based systems.