If you Google the origin of the word booze a number of explanations and origins come up. None of which I consider to be as interesting as the one I have heard.
The most common origin ascribes the word to either the Dutch or German word busen ‘to drink to excess’ or ‘to carouse’.
One of the most persistent “booze myths” traces the word to a Mr. Booz, a mid 19th century distiller from the Philadelphia area. Some say it comes from the Middle English word (circa 1300) ‘bouse’ meaning to drink.
One of my favorites is based on a promoter who promised free beer to anyone who came to one of his events. His name? Mr. Booz.
The one that makes the most sense to me (and didn’t come from google) is that its origin is said to go back to World War I and a contingent of ‘doughboys’ the nickname given to the American Expeditionary Force that took part in the war. These troops were in a southwestern French town with no alcohol to consume except for the local wine. The town was Buzet… as in Buzet Wine…as in “what’s this here booze?”
When I first started working with Absolut in the late 90’s, the Swedes had an interesting expression about the brand. They referred to it as “an over night success since 1982.”
Absolut remains an iconic, powerhouse brand even amidst the churn and turmoil in the vodka market. Along the way, other “over night” success have appeared and faded.
So what’s the common denominator? What makes a brand break out of the pack either from the starting gate as a new brand entry or over time?
Let’s start with what it’s not about.
It’s not about market/consumer research. Absolut and Bailey’s failed in consumer tests. The old IDV company had a brand called Greensleeves that broke all consumer test records…have you ever heard of Greensleeves?
And, it’s not about big marketing and advertising budgets. Even when the mass media Dinosaurs ruled the earth, no spirit company could afford to break through the clutter. The advent of the digital communications era may change that but it will take time and patience.
Oh, there’s a good one as a success inhibitor – patience. The large spirits companies just don’t have the time or fortitude to nurture new brands or to enhance the growth of burgeoning brands. Throughout the system – from spirits marketers to sales people to wholesalers – the “book” is cluttered and the rewards come from the known winners.
The big companies are great at taking new brands and products and moving them to new heights. They buy brands they don’t create them. Once they buy a brand there’s an economic (or career) incentive to show it was a good move. That’s when things begin to happen.
But success from the outset depends on a visionary, tenacity and the trade.