Low-brow American Brands Retool Themselves for Upscale Appeal in Asia

Forget what you think you know about Pabst Blue Ribbon and the oh-so-ironic hipster cachet the brand has acquired in the last five or ten years. Right now, believe it or not, PBR is the fanciest and priciest American brew you can buy in China. And remember Buick, maker of those dependable but less-than-glamorous suburban mom-mobiles you were embarrassed to be seen getting out of at school or the rock concert? Like PBR, it is also a luxury, prestige brand in China, considered a true status symbol for the wealthy and upwardly mobile. In Cambodia, Kentucky Fried Chicken is considered a destination restaurant, where members of that country’s small but growing upper-middle class go to be seen and partake of pricey meals which can cost 10 times what the average Cambodian makes doing a day’s work. In Thailand, the delicious but basically down-scale Krispy Kreme donut brand has established itself in Bangkok’s Rodeo Drive-like Siam Paragon shopping mall, rubbing retail elbows with a Marc Jacobs store and a Ferrari dealership. These are just a few examples of how American companies with struggling or unpopular brands are taking those brands to Asia and reinventing them to appeal to a generation of Asian consumers who know greater mobility and wealth than their parents. It makes sense, if you think about it, even though to us the idea of paying 46 bucks for a bottle of PBR (that’s what the fancy Pabst Blue Ribbon 1844 brand costs) seems pretty ridiculous. Still, you have to admire the brands that are finding prestige and new life among Asia’s young and wealthy. And, like us, you’re probably wondering what a $46 bottle of any kind of beer tastes like. (Foreign Policy – Upscale Asians Like Downscale Brands)