Ask Beau – “Why isn’t sake more mainstream?”
Hmmmmmm! This is a really good question Chris from Boston. I think there are a myriad of answers ranging from marketing and general awareness to our 3-tier alcohol system and our “not free” market economy.
I once read a directive from a powerful importer/exporter in Japan who shall remain nameless, but it sort of reflects how off the mark they are in terms of increasing sake popularity worldwide.
Necessary Conditions for Product Internationalization”
It is a very important issue to expand the market of sake throughout the world. However, this attempt has been ineffective. In order to accomplish this, the following must be appealed: the comparison of sake with other international alcoholic beverages; the emphasis on its true cultural and traditional values; and its apparent, regional characteristics in production. All information and rules about sake must be arranged by a trainer/specialist who can explain the meaning and value.
Even in Japan the marketing of the segment called sake is weak. Small breweries have no marketing money and big brewers brand for themselves, and the industry advertises to “drink a glass of water with each glass of sake.” (No kidding – that was a big campaign once) The message of premium sake is not getting out there.
How many distributor trucks have you seen driving around with vodka, tequila, or a certain winery advertisements? Lots! Have you ever seen one truck EVER with a sake advert on it? Nope! It’s all about awareness and we have very little sake awareness in the US. Who will take the sake industry to the next level of competing with all alcohols on a national level? The Japanese government is tossing a lot of money at the sake industry to help promote it globally. It would be great if somebody told them about distributor trucks!