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March 25, 2013 11:00 AM How Rolling Rock Got Fancy

By Keith Humphreys

In a post about marijuana markets, I mentioned the disorienting experience of seeing affluent San Francisco hipsters who could afford much better brew nonetheless drinking Rolling Rock (a so-so working class beer produced about 70 miles from my hometown). I speculated that such consumption was a form of signalling, as if such an “authentic” Western Pennsylvania beverage could give upscale consumers some working class cred.

Not so, says Jay Livingston, who went to the source and learned about the marketing of the beer. Here’s the view of his industry expert:

far from expressing solidarity with the working class, urban drinkers far afield regarded [Rolling Rock] as an upscale icon in much the way that Stella Artois has claimed today – a triumph of pure marketing.

Jay’s post also features some arresting visuals in addition to his argumentation and research. Read it here.

[Originally posted at The Reality-based Community]

Keith Humphreys is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
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