Category Archives: Beverage Products

‘Tis the Season for Great Lakes Christmas Ale

Every November in Northeast Ohio people go nuts for Great Lakes Christmas Ale. Ask any Clevelander and they will tell you I’m not exaggerating.

In fact, I headed to Cleveland in early November for a short visit right when Great Lakes began selling its Christmas Ale at the retail level. On the plane to Cleveland, I sat next to a guy from Massachusetts who I proceeded to tell about the Great Lakes Christmas Ale and people around us started chiming in telling him it was a must do while in Cleveland.

And every year it seems that Great Lakes has shortages of Christmas Ale. Even in early November, I had to wait a few days for retailers to get in another shipment because they had sold out. My cousin couldn’t find it anywhere around Thanksgiving and was threatening to steal my stash at my Mom’s house. The local news was even reporting on the shortage this year.

Closer to the end of December, when the company is getting very short on supply, you will see Great Lakes Brewery’s Facebook page light up with what bars and retailers you can buy Christmas Ale. You can literally hear the chatter on the streets about where to get it at your local watering hole.

How did Great Lakes Christmas Ale get so popular considering Thirsty Dog’s 12 Dogs of Christmas (another Northeast Ohio brewery) is very close in taste, and some even claim it is better? The Great Lakes Christmas Ale phenomenon was not created by a genius marketing or advertising campaign, rather it is the simple law of supply and demand coupled with word-of-mouth marketing.

Whatever the reason Clevelanders don’t care and just want their Christmas Ale. ‘Tis the season for Christmas Ale. Cheers!

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I Drink the Same Wine As Courtney Cox!

A few weeks ago I was at dinner with friends who ordered a bottle of The Prisoner wine for the table. It is an Orin Swift wine and is simply divine. If the wine itself is not a conversation starter, the label artwork, which is very dark and mysterious, will. 

Just this week, my friends who ordered The Prisoner sent me an email that the wine was going to be featured in this week’s Cougar Town. They have the inside track on Orin Swift wines because a friend of theirs is a distributor.

Evidently, Courtney Cox and her cast mates are huge fans of the wine and reached out to Orin Swift awhile back for some product placement. The first episode that featured The Prisoner was just last night and the wine will make several additional appearances in the show.

The show is very wine centric so the winery is pretty excited about the opportunity. But what stuck me the most about this was the email from my friend that said:

Do you recognize this bottle? This is one of the bottles we drank at dinner. We are so hip!

Hip huh? This is a true example of how TV product placement and celebrity endorsements can benefit brands. Point proven by my friend, product placement and celebrity endorsements can not only increase sales among new customers, but also can keep current customers coming back for more. Because after all, if Courtney Cox drinks The Prisoner then that makes us “hip” for drinking it too!

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The Next Generation of Vending Machines

My husband and I were watching CNBC earlier this week and saw the new Coke Freestyle Jet Machine.  We were both equally intrigued.

Coke Freestyle Jet Machine actually launched in 2009, but is currently being test marketed across the country.  It is a drink dispensing machine that offers consumers 100 different flavors.  You use the touch screen to develop your custom coke product, including anything from Diet Black Cherry Vanilla Coke to flavored waters and energy drinks.  You can even get products not currently sold in the United States.

This got me thinking about our recent trip to Vegas when I saw flowers in a vending machine.  And I have grown accustom to see Red Box (a glorified vending machine) selling movies and video games in my local grocery store.

After some quick research online, I saw that everything from high-end products including iPods to digital cameras and digital music are being sold in vending machines across the country. And the locations of vending machines have expanded to military bases, airports, fast-food restaurants and hospitals.

The bottom line is that vending machines aren’t just for candy anymore.  And as consumers prefer to be in control (from airport check in kiosks to scanning your own groceries), this trend will continue to expand and we’ll all be more comfortable with purchasing everything from custom soft drinks to the iPad from a vending machine.

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For All You Red Winos

As a self-proclaimed wino, I love anything and everything to do with wine.  This past Christmas my in-laws gave me this great wine tool that I just have to rave about – the Rabbit Aerating Pourer by Metrokane. 

You attach the “Rabbit” to your freshly opened red wine bottle, and it aerates the wine as you pour it.  It doesn’t require a decanter and definitely improves the taste of the wine.  It takes the edge off a newly opened bottle of red wine.  It is also very easy to clean!

The only thing I would recommend to Metrokane is reducing the splashing that occurs as you pour the wine.  Otherwise, it is an excellent tool for all your red wine lovers out there!

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Does Coke’s Happiness Machine Video Only Resonate with Coke Fans?

I feel the need to start off this blog post by giving the disclaimer that I am a loyal Coke fan. Thanks to my college roommate, I refuse to drink Pepsi and scoff at wait staff who try and slip me one when I order Coke.

So when I saw Coke’s new “Happiness Machine” video, I immediately loved it. From a marketing standpoint, the video was real and the reactions were priceless. It was amazing how something as simple as sharing a free Coke, pizza or sub could brighten someone’s day. The video definitely resonated with me and I’m actually craving a Coke!

However, had Pepsi developed this same video, I would have still appreciated the video concept from a marketing standpoint. But as “Jen the consumer”, it would have had no effect on me whatsoever. The message would have been pretty flat and I would have went on with my day.

Maybe it was because the video brought back great memories of college and how my friends and I would make it an event to go to Wendy’s for a biggie Coke. Or maybe it is just because I’m a Coke fan. But either way, I love this video and I’m responding to Coke’s call to action to “Share the happiness, share the video”!

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McDonald’s: Hot Drinks & Hot Profits

I’d like a Big Mac, Mc BLT, A Quarter-Pounder with some cheese, Filet-O-Fish, A Hamburger, A Cheeseburger, A Happy Meal. Hot chocolate, iced mocha, latte, cappuccino ?!

Today I gave in and headed to the golden arches for a Coke and some fries. As I pulled into the double drive through, a fairly new addition to the Gordon Road McDonald’s, the employee asked me over the loud speaker “Would you like to try our hot chocolate today?”

I contemplated trying it for a moment because I was so perplexed that McDonald’s was promoting its hot chocolate. Their premium roast coffee maybe… but hot chocolate? I politely declined and drove away with my Coke and fries.

Intrigued, I did some reach and discovered McDonald’s is actually installing McCafes into their locations. redir3McCafes serve mochas, hot or iced; lattes, hot or iced; cappuccinos; and hot chocolates. McDonald’s premium roast coffee and iced coffees are still available as well. According to an article in the New York Times (, McCafes have been installed in 6,500 of McDonald’s more than 14,000 stores nationwide.

In fact, you can visit and see if a McCafe has been installed at your local McDonald’s and download free coupons for a mocha, latte and cappuccino.

Will the McCafes be successful? Even though Starbucks has been closing numerous locations, I think the McCafes have an excellent opportunity to expand McDonald’s and further establish its presence in the beverage category. After all, look at the popularity of the McDonald’s shakes and orange drink. And according to the New York Times, in the two years since McDonald’s introduced premium coffee, sales of drip coffee are up 70 percent. It is so easy to run through the drive through (especially since they have expanded many) and get your cup of joe for the day.

McDonald’s has certainly been making some smart decisions throughout the recent years and McCafes will likely be added to the list of successful business decisions. According to the New York Times, “as of November, the latest data available, the company had delivered 55 consecutive months of increases in global same-store sales. During a year when the stock market lost a third of its value — its worst performance since the Great Depression — shares of McDonald’s gained nearly 6 percent, making the company one of only two in the Dow Jones industrial average whose share price rose in 2008. (The other was Wal-Mart.)”

Congrats Mcedees!

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