Tag Archives: sydney-frank

Narratives for Selling Premium Goods: The Grey Goose Story

People want to pay more in order to own luxury goods, but you need to give them a reason to do so. That excuse? A compelling story.

One man that subscribed to this idea was Sydney Frank, as is evident from the strategy he developed for Grey Goose: the ‘superpremium’ vodka that Barcardi bought for $2 billion in cash in what became the largest ever single brand sale.

In a 2005 New York article published shortly before his death, you can read all about Sydney Frank’s marketing/branding strategy and the compeling story of Grey Goose vodka. This excerpt follows Frank’s decision to have Grey Goose distilled in France:

But why France? Doesn’t vodka come from Russia, or perhaps, in a pinch, Scandinavia? “People are always looking for something new,” says Frank. It’s all about brand differentiation. If you’re going to charge twice as much for a vodka, you need to give people a reason.

“Nietzsche explains that human beings are looking for the ‘why’ in their lives, […] we refer to this ‘why’ as ‘the Great Story.’ The Great Story must be enticing, memorable, easily repeatable, and about what you want your brand to be about.”

For Grey Goose, the brand was about unrivaled quality. Grey Goose’s Great Story hinged on the following key points: It comes from France, where all the best luxury products come from. It’s not another rough-hewn Russian vodka—it’s a masterpiece crafted by French vodka artisans.

It uses water from pristine French springs, filtered through Champagne limestone.

It’s got a distinctive, carefully designed bottle, with smoked glass and a silhouette of flying geese. It looks fantastic up behind the bar, the way it catches the light […] It sure looks expensive.

It was shipped in wood crates, like a fine wine, not in cardboard boxes like Joe Schmo’s vodka. This catches the bartender’s eye and reinforces the aura of quality. Never forget the influence of the bartender. […]

And now the most important piece of the story—the twist that brings it all together: Grey Goose costs way more than other vodkas. Waaaaaaay more. So it must be the best.

This description of Grey Goose’s Great Story perfectly captures the essence of the article.