Aug 272019

Here are the powerful brands that sit at the very top of the list:

RankBrandBrand Value ($B)1-Yr Value ChangeIndustry

For many years “branding” has been the buzz word in the beer industry.   No doubt the branding of a brewery or a beer brand is the key to success. With the number of breweries in operation, in addition to the tens of thousands of brands and SKUs currently available, a beer product has only one chance to establish its branding.  The question for the beer industry is how does a company establish effective branding for itself or its brands? Just a simple package change or name change can create a monster. When Corona shifted from a simple brown bottle to a clear longneck bottle, it changed the industry.

Michelob has had success with two key packaging items. One of these success stories is Michelob Ultra’s thin, tall can which emphasizes their branding of low carb/low calorie. Ultra’s branding reflects that of Coors Banquet Beer from the 1960s , identified as America’s Fine Light beer. That Coors product came in a taller, yet thin can, similar to Ultra’s. Even today, many suppliers are attempting to market their products by using a similar style can, often referred to as the “Ultra style” can. Another product of Michelob which, at this point, causes one to wonder why AB has not reintroduced it into the market, is the famous tear-drop bottle. With the success of Michelob Ultra, what would happen if that tear-drop bottle were to be re-introduced into the market with a generation of drinkers who have never seen that bottle style?

The branding of seltzers, the current hot segment, is an interesting case study. Once the liquid is created the seltzer marketing experts build the branding around the key elements of the liquid. Similar to Ultra’s low carbs and calories, but with the addition of fruit flavor(s). The breweries are packaging the seltzer in a similar tall, thin Ultra-like-can, further emphasizing that the product is a light liquid. 

Branding a product that is created to play catch-up with an already existing hot segment could be difficult, at best. White Claw and Truly dominate the seltzer segment, but there is a great deal of competition in the seltzer market. How do these new products become viable against those already dominating the segment? Is that viability accomplished through branding? Some competitors see that a higher ABV, combined with the additional flavoring will help their branding and separate their liquid in the crowded market. Other competitors are going the opposite direction with much lower ABVs for their seltzers.

More importantly for the beer industry, however, are the struggles both AB and MC are experiencing with their current branding of Bud, Bud Light, Coors Light, and Miller Lite. The struggles of these two super-giants to update their brands has yet to be effective, Coors Light notwithstanding.

Once a successful brand starts to slide, just like creating branding for a new product, the beer industry has experienced the difficulty of re-branding. The surge of new products will continue for years to come, thus making the art of branding even more important.

Just ask all the former Schlitz executives or wholesalers!

Branding is a deliberate differentiation. 

 Posted by at 6:00 am

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>