Did I miss a meeting? The malt beverages that are flavored with something else — fruit, essence of liquor or whatever — have been called by many names. Alcopop is always the one that first leaps to mind, even though that’s supposedly a derogatory term. Why? Apparently adding “pop” makes it for the kiddies, something the watchdogs can’t abide. Because anything that’s meant to be fun for adults but just might also possibly appeal to kids is strictly verboten in their addled minds. Of course, people have been calling beer “barley pop” for decades, if not longer, so I don’t see why it’s such a big deal. It’s like the seasonal beers with Santa Claus on the labels they find so offensive, as if adults aren’t allowed to like St. Nick, too.
Other names they’ve been called include FABs (Flavored Alcoholic Beverage), FMBs (Flavored Malt Beverage), Malternatives and RTD (Ready To Drink), at least in Australia and New Zealand. Sadly, thanks to the anti-alcohol bunch, the industry never uses the fun term Alcopops lest anyone be accused of actually having fun with them. Personally, I’ll keeping calling them Alcopops because I see nothing wrong with that name. I say we take it back. They’re alcoholic and they’re sweet, alco and pop. So what?
In the business world, Alcopops are, or at least were, usually referred to as FMBs, or Flavored Malt Beverages. Though a pretty bland name, it at least fairly describes what they are: malt-based beverages that have been flavored with something.
But in looking through the SymphonyIRI charts for the previous post, I kept noticing a line for PABs. What on earth are PABs, I wondered? How could I possibly have missed an entire new category? It turns out PABs are an abbreviation for yet another new term for Alcopops. A highly unscientific Google search reveals the term’s been around at least since 2007, though mentions of PABs increase dramatically in 2008-2009.
But PAB might be the worst one of all. It stands for “Progressive Adult Beverages.” So yes, they’re beverages and they’re meant for adults, obviously. But what the hell is progressive about them? I suppose it’s no worse than premium or sub-premium, but at least that’s a quality. Even if I laugh at its inaccuracy, premium at least describes where it fits in a hierarchy. Progressive? That’s about as meaningless a name as you could attach to a drink or class of drinks.
And let me stop you before you start. I know this is a silly or stupid or whatever thing to get worked up about. But bear in mind I’m a writer, a language geek, a word nerd and I do believe words have power. What we call things does make a difference. That’s why corporations pay huge sums to come up with new product names, testing them in focus groups, getting the graphics just so, trying to invoke the right response they want from potential customers.
To me, they’ll always be Alcopops.