Somewhere in China, They’re Laughing at Me

Posted on April 21, 2009


Here's an illustration of how word-of-mouth marketing happens and why ancient Chinese wisemen might just be laughing at me.  After a long run this weekend, my friend K and I stopped to stock up on groceries at Whole Foods and refuel with some tasty beverages (of the sport drink variety).  Not knowing what to pick (there are a lot of choices at WF), I decided to choose by the label.  Turns out the pretty label I was investigating was Kombucha.

K of course has tried this drink and starts to explain how it's a "love it or hate it" kind of beverage.  She also talks up all the miracle benefits saying, "it's some sort of fermented, ancient Chinese tea that has amazing restorative properties."  I'm up for a challenge because that sounds like exactly what I need.  What's the worst that can happen?  I hate it.  In the meantime I will also look more beautiful, lose 20 pounds, run faster, jump higher, have a healthier liver… you know, the standard health claims of sport drinks.

Well, first sip, I'm sold.  I love it.  By the time I reach the check-out stand, with my empty bottle in hand, I do feel totally restored, energized and all the other things the bottle claims that the FDA refuses to verify.

So, now it has me thinking, what exactly is this stuff?  Before I go around talking about how great I feel, maybe I should look into it.  The Wikipedia definition is enough to scare you away, that's clear.  Or, maybe I should just admit that the allure of drinking some ancient Chinese herbal remedy is all I really needed to restore me to pre-run energy status.

I guess the lesson here for marketers (ancient and Chinese or otherwise) is that a little word of mouth and a lot of mystery goes a long way.  I feel like I discovered something, something that the FDA overlooked.  Something great that I'll recommend to other runners and friends.  Do I know what Kombucha is?  Nope.  Do I think it's amazing?  Yep.  Is the marketer that put all those claims on the label laughing at me for falling for his tricks?  Maybe.

Try it and let me know.


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