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The highlight of any annual brewery convention has traditionally been the unveiling of the next year’s new ad campaign. This was especially true when a brewer had experienced slowing sales in its main brand, typically the result of the brewer having changed either management or ad agencies, or sometimes both. Effective ads not only meant that the brand would respond, but effective ads aided in building confidence in the brewer’s wholesalers. That alone was important, if not more important, for the brewery than how the consumer viewed the product.
As we start 2018, this decade has seen a revolution in how breweries, especially crafts, have changed their marketing and media programs. Social media, not traditional media, has become the main and sometimes only means by which crafts, especially startups, market their beers to the consumer.
If a brewery uses social media as its only form of marketing, it becomes incumbent on the consumer to find the brewery. Sure, brewery labels, other forms of p-o-s, and other social media outlets (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) will have the website address for the product. But ultimately, the consumer has to find these addresses and look up the brewery.
Traditionally, above the line media functions just the opposite by seeking out the consumer. If the message from the brewery is on target, the consumer will seek out the brand or information about the brand. Take, for example, the current, and quite successfully AB Dilly Dilly ads. It is somewhat doubtful that this tagline would be such a hit if it had been used only through social media forms of marketing. No doubt, AB has hit on something with Dilly Dill, yet it is a little too early to see if it has a positive effect on sales for Bud Light. Either way, AB is on to something.
Then there is the question of cord cutting by Millennials. With ESPN losing millions of subscribers, as has commercial TV, the question of how traditional advertising will function in the coming years is worth of discussion. There are now a plethora of choices: Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV, YouTube TV, and others. That, combined with Disney’s purchase of Fox’s assets, means that changes are coming.
Much of the blame for the volume losses experienced by AB and MC has been attributed to ineffective ads that do not resonate with consumers. Miller changes ad agencies almost every year, and AB has recently changed, too. Yet both breweries continue to pump millions into traditional media marketing along with extensive social media platforms.
For those local, and successful crafts, who are experiencing difficulty in expanding their footprint outside of the 300-mile local radius, those breweries’ marketing techniques might be better suited by a traditional campaign instead of solely relying on social media which forces the consumer to find the brand. And why should the consumer go to the trouble of finding another brand if that consumer already supports the areas local brands?
Breweries that have designs on aggressive growth and survival need to support both social and traditional media programs. Without using both means, breweries limit themselves, somewhat like a brewery that only offers their products in bottles and kegs. In doing just that, the brewery sells to less than half the market.
Nowadays, social media is the easiest place to go and find something…