How Beer is Like Marketing

Alan Belniakbusiness, Marketing9 Comments

NPR posted a story about the changing tastes in beer recently, and instantly as I heard it, I thought “that’s just like marketing.”  Here’s how.

Go ahead and jump to the story, then come back.  We’ll wait.  It’s a short read or listen (just under four minutes).

One of the lines that made me shake my head was this one:

“The company is rolling out a new brand called Batch 19, but most of the innovation focuses on packaging and ads. New packaging is a relatively low-cost way for a company to show it’s doing something new, and it might generate short-term buzz.“

Honestly?  This is something that to me (and I really hope to most people) is so transparent.  It’s shameful that multi-kajillion dollar companies are really spending time and money on a vortex bottle.

vortex bottle

One of the lines that made me smile is this (emphasis added by me):

“The owner of Pike Brewing Co., Charles Finkel, oversees every detail of production at his microbrewery. He’s been in the craft beer business for decades, and he dismisses the innovations being trumpeted by the major brands. “It [commercial-style beer] has nothing to do with what is the raw material, where does the barley come from, what hops do they use, and how much hops do they use,” Finkel says.“ Ahhhhhh!

This is a problem that faces many companies today.  They are looking for fractions of margin points to gain, so they adjust the make-up and lipstick and tease the hair.  That’s not solving any problem.  People will see through that.  The upstarts (craft brewers, in this case), are offering a better product.  They use better ingredients, spend lots of time to craft the recipe, understand (and explain) the style and from where the ingredients come.  In essence, they are offering more content… better content.

The kicker of this story is that in a time where most typical beer sales are down, craft beer sales are up.  Huzzah!  Craft beers are typically more expensive (see the NPR story for the details).  So, even when wallets are thinner, people are still spending more money on craft beers, because they are willing to spend more on content, not packaging.

Marketing is the same.  You can a 3% off promo, introduce a new vortex bottle, or re-run the same lackluster webinar (but… at a new time!).  At the end of the day, if the content is still so-so, people will see through that.  Instead, spend more time on crafting better quality content for which people will willingly pay a premium.

(Definitive Ale has a nice post about this topic as well: http://definitiveale.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/miller-coors-vortex-bottle-shows-us-their-true-colors/ , and they are also the image source for this post)


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