In an article titled What, no beer runs and bikini models?, CNNMoney.com explores what beer makers like Anheuser Busch are trying to do to improve beer’s image. Beer has lost market share in recent years, with the slack being taken up by wine and spirits. Beer ads are likely to shift from bikini-clad babes and sports themes to softer pitches that focus more on the product and how it is made.
The article notes,
And just like wine manufacturers have excelled at educating retailers and consumers about what foods go best with different wines, he said the beer industry will attempt to teach retailers about how to sell beer with various food groups.
Exactly how that will be accomplished isn’t clear, since to date beer ads have been almost totally focused on building loyalty to a single brand. Will we see ads like, “Budweiser… great with beef… fish and poultry, too… the perfect accompaniment for pasta… and don’t forget dessert!”? If they are serious about targeting food pairing with different beers, the firms will be forced to push multiple brands, or varieties within a brand, to the same consumer. This is a lot more involved than rolling out a few new ads.
One area where winemakers have benefitted is the apparent health benefit of drinking a modest amount of wine daily. Beermakers feel they can promote a similar benefit, but have steered clear until now because of potential litigation risk.
The article points out that wine and spirits offer great variety and price points, while beer doesn’t. An expensive bottle of wine or scotch can be an affordable luxury, but beer simply doesn’t offer that option. This, too, points to potential product proliferation in the beer area as firms launch ultra-premium brands to appeal to a luxury market.
Although CNNMoney doesn’t mention the firm by name, the brewers of Sam Adams seem to be out in front of the pack with this marketing shift. They already have a selection of distinctly flavored brews bottled under the flagship brand, and even launched a brew in a single-bottle gift box for the last holiday season that cost as much as a bottle of Scotch. It looks like the major brewers snuck a peek at the Sam Adams playbook.
Box Wine vs. Beer. The encroachment of box wines has to be looming on the brewing horizon. Light consumers of wine (e.g., the “glass a day” crowd) find bottles to be problematic due to deterioration after opening. Now that even supermarkets are carrying upscale boxes, wine becomes an easier consumer choice. In addition, once a wine box is in a consumer’s home, it’s an easy choice to pour a glass rather than opening a beer. Over the years, beverage makers like Pepsi and Coke have found that the key to increased sales is to get the consumer to carry a large quantity of the beverage home from the supermarket; this is why bottles have gotten ever larger and promotions always reward larger quantity purchases. In the battle for daily alcoholic beverage consumption, wine boxes are an awesome weapon. In a convenient, compact, and relatively inexpensive container, a consumer can carry home about 20 servings in a 3 liter box or more than 30 in a five liter box. Compare this to the relative inconvenience of a buying, transporting, storing, and refrigerating a case of bottled beer (24 servings). In addition, these boxes offer different varieties and flavors, and are now starting to offer a range of price points in the U.S.
Beer has every reason to worry about the future.