When developing a promotional campaign or deciding what to place on a product package, marketers will often search for comments by a neutral third party hoping these will impress potential customers. The idea is that customers may consider what is said by those who are not directly paid be a marketer to be unbiased and, consequently, highly credible. Examples are easy to find, such as a car company promoting their automobile's top rating in crash tests performed by a government agency or a university touting their ranking by a major news magazine.
The influence that third party evaluators can have is potentially so meaningful that organizations often bend over backwards to support and cater to them. For instance, a marketer may provide evaluators with direct access to top executives and even offer financial support, especially to important non-profits. Of course, there are many that will look at monetary support as an attempt to buy influence but that is far from being the case. There are many reputable third party evaluators whose evaluations and opinions cannot be bought, even if they receive money from organizations they evaluate.
In the same vein there are non-profit trade groups that are funded by and work for their members. While these groups do not specifically evaluate and rate products, they do make decisions that marketers may be eager to promote. An excellent example can be found in this Fortune story that reports on changes in the craft beer industry. According to the story, the Brewers Association, a trade group representing U.S. craft brewers, has changed how they define craft beer. The new definition expands what is classified as a craft beer leading to a change in the listing of top craft brewers.
The alteration has raised Pennsylvania brewer, Yuengling, to the top of the U.S. craft beer list ahead of previous leader Samuel Adams. While there is no evidence in the story that Yuengling plans to take promotional advantage of their new status, do not be surprised to see this coming soon to their packaging, in-store displays and advertisements.
Image by Sebastian Anthony