Over the decades I must have sat through maybe a hundred “marketing” meetings on either the vendor or wholesaler side. I’ve seen these in all categories, domestics, imports, crafts and even PAB’s. In almost every case, during the “brand strategy” segments (always early in the meeting), they would present the targeted demographics for the particular brand. It always seemed to be LDA to 34, or with imports/crafts, 26 to 39, professional, income $75K+ and it seemed that the marketing department changed about every two to three years. This always brought in new people, a change in agencies, and of course, a new direction for the brand. The results, as expected, were somewhat mixed, then the cycle started over again.
Much has been written lately about the softness of the premium lights (Coors Light the exception) and we all know about Budweiser and Miller. The big growth numbers are in crafts, PAB’s, Mexican imports, Stella, ciders, and some very high cost specialties. This constitutes only about 20% of the US volume, but seems to dominate all the discussion and interest in the industry! Especially with wholesalers.
That being said, then just why are the domestics struggling? Look at the new Heineken commercials as they are obviously targeted at a much younger generation. I hope they get it, as I don’t, but then again, I’m not the targeted demographic! Then the question becomes, is Heineken purposely forgetting or overlooking their core business of those over 50? It appears to be so, doesn’t it?
A force to consider are the Boomers. As of today, Boomers are 77 million strong and they “buy things” because they have the disposable income to do so. In fact, in the last 12 months, 47% of all consumer goods and services were purchased by people 50 and older, to the tune of $2.7 trillion! The 50+ population are only going to increase as the Boomers finish moving into that demographic.
With very few exceptions only a few beer companies have marketing campaign targeted specifically toward the Boomers. Coors Banquet is an example, which has had a consistent message for the last several years. The strategy is working, as the brand is now growing after struggling for the past several years. Think about it, have you ever attended a marketing meeting where the brand strategy is targeted at the 50+ up, high income/retired demographics? I haven’t. Then is the question, is it easier to market to a much younger demographic? It must be, or could the question be, is it easier for a 35-year-old marketing executive to market to a younger group then an older group?
My contemporaries do not drink crafts, fruit beers, PAB’s, ciders, or European imports. They drink domestic lights and some Mexican imports. That’s it. Maybe it’s more of the domestic marketing experts taking the Boomers for granted knowing that they will always be there and their challenge (as they see it) is to get the younger drinker? Maybe it’s the nature of the American marketing industry to glorify youth and beauty over age and experience. If that’s the case, then the 77+ million boomers truly are the forgotten generation…..