Mountain Man Light:
More Profits or Less Brand Equity?
TMBA BBUS 506 A
Michael Cavelero, Joel Engstrom, Nesreen Zadah, David Tobey
1 | P a g e
"We are not here to sell a parcel of boilers and vats, but the potentiality of growing rich
beyond the dreams of avarice." – Samuel Johnson, ‘On the Sale of Thrale’s Brewery’
“Some of those coal miners could really drink some beer. We would always stay until
closing time, and it happened so many times that the busses were not running anymore. Many
weekends we’d get back early in the morning, and we had to be at the coal mines at six in the
morning. All we could do was change our clothes, take our lunch bag and go to ...view middle of the document...
Yet for all its success, Mountain Man is facing serious challenges. Revenue is beginning
to erode (2% yearly) as it faces stiffening competition, a maturing market and new products
which threaten to steal its customer base. Added to this is the perception by senior management
(owner Oscar Prangel and son Chris) that Mountain Man is not, or cannot, change alongside a
changing market. Light beer is sweeping the consumer beer market, and as Mountain Man’s
loyal customer base ages, it is failing to attract younger and female drinkers with its current
Chris Prangel is convinced that the light beer market is the answer. If Mountain Man can
produce a successful light beer, it can ensure future growth. Yet a recent marketing survey he
commissioned revealed significant obstacles. Existing customers prefer the taste, and more often,
the ethos of Mountain Man lager. Many identify light beer with upper income, “yuppie” drinkers
– anathema to multigenerational working class mining families. Chris’ father, Oscar, rationalizes
that if Mountain Man were to produce a light beer, it would both cannibalize Mountain Man’s
existing market share and alienate its older customer base.
2 | P a g e
The Mountain Man Brand
Brand equity is defined as the value contained in a specific brand; in some cases, the
value of the brand name if it were to be sold; in other cases, how much value the brand name
adds to the specific product. Sufficed to say, the concept of brand equity and threats to the brand
itself play a role in the decision making of Mountain Man’s senior management.
Currently, Mountain Man is a winning brand with a quality product. Their lager is sold in
Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio: impressive for what amounts to a regional specialty brew.
In West Virginia, Mountain Man is the market leader. Their lager is rated as the best known
regional beer, and has won “best beer” awards in both West Virginia and Indiana. Mountain Man
is an established, 75+-year-old brand with a loyal, if aging blue-collar clientele. It is obvious to
both Chris his father that alienating that customer segment would be disastrous for Mountain
Specific factors add value to Mountain Man’s brand. Most importantly, it caters to
regional tastes (dark, bitter). But Mountain Man also has class cachet (it’s a miner’s beer) it’s
family-owned, it’s perceived as being high-quality and it’s a legacy product. Many people seem
to drink Mountain Man as a way to connect with previous generation – what Stuart McLean calls
“interlinked historical memory.” Their fathers and grandfather’s drank it, and they’ll drink it too.
Yet, while this connects past generations, it fails to draw in the coming youth. The demographic
data show a steady decline in market capture with decreasing drinker age.
In recent years, Mountain Man has attempted to build additional brand equity by
encouraging “off-premise locations” such as stores or supermarkets...