I have written previously about the demise of the company that made WONDER BREAD, Hostess TWINKIES and other such delectable treats. The business execution was reportedly poor, but brand equity remains.

It was reported yesterday that ” C. Dean Metropoulos and Co., the Connecticut-based private equity firm behind blue-collar-cum-hipster-darling beer, Pabst Blue Ribbon, is considering making an offer to buy Hostess Brands, Inc., according to Bloomberg.”

This peaked my interest just a little bit.  I am old enough to remember PBR when it was just, well, PBR: cheap beer, on a par with Schaefer. But I digress. I also know PBR is “hipster” approved, and also is relatively cheap and is primarily consumed in large 16-oz. cans. There’s something else I know that explains that CDM’s HOSTESS bid is a brilliant play.

PABST BLUE RIBBON has a cool market niche in the U.S.. But, it is gigantic in China. When I was in China at the end of September, cycling through the South, PBR was everywhere in the streets. Here are a couple of shots, in (if I remember correctly) Gulin and Wuzhou.



(Sorry for the size, I’ll try to get better images later) And yes, I have non-PBR pictures of China, these are the only two.

In any case, PBR is on its way to becoming the KFC or MacDonald’s of beer in China. By that, I mean that, aside from being dominant brands, they are positioned as “quality alternatives” to native food. I am not kidding. “KFC differentiated itself from other local Chinese fast food restaurants by not only providing normal standard KFC foods but also offering customers with high quality service with different concept and ambiance. Moreover, KFC adapted itself in the foods variety to match with customer needs.”

It appears that PBR, through its local licensee has tapped into something simpler. It even has marketed a super-ultra-hyper premium beer ($44 a bottle, folks), with great success.

So, now the HOSTESS portfolio looks a bit different, doesn’t it? To us, TWINKIES and HOHO’s are one thing. To our Han brethren, it may strike a deeper chord. The brand is what consumers make of it, with the assistance of the brand proprietor.


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