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From Coke to Netflix: Consumers Drive Brands Into Retreat

Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO Roberto C. Goizueta, left, and COO Donald R. Keough toast the New Coke on April 23, 1985
Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO Roberto C. Goizueta, left, and COO Donald R. Keough toast the New Coke on April 23, 1985 Photograph by Marty Lederhandler/AP Photo

The Kentucky producers of Maker’s Mark bourbon were given a cruel reminder of that old adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Last week the distillery announced it didn’t have enough supply to meet the demand, and its solution was to lower the bourbon’s alcohol content, from 45 percent (90 proof) to 42 percent (84 proof). Loyal customers rose up in a fury and took to Facebook and Twitter and voiced their outrage, many promising to boycott Maker’s Mark and buy their bourbon elsewhere.

The backlash worked. Over the weekend, Maker’s Mark course-corrected. “While we thought we were doing what’s right, this is your brand—and you told us in large numbers to change our decision,” Rob Samuels, the distillery’s chief operating officer, explained on the company’s website. “You spoke. We listened. And we’re sincerely sorry we let you down.”