This is the first in a three-part series this week looking at the cross section of beer companies and social media.
Things are getting weird this spring in the Land of Big Beer. Could this simply be the start?
As I’ve noted before, success in sales isn’t directly tied to product quality for these brands. It’s about staying hip and relevant, most noticeably in the way you … notice them. This is how Big Beer combats craft beer encroaching on its shelf space.
But while AB InBev dukes it out in the grocery store, they’re also busy fighting for your attention online. This should come as no surprise, as the people you’d most expect to spend time on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and others also tend to be the biggest craft beer drinkers, according to a recent study by Mintel. Here’s a breakdown of the percentage of craft beer drinkers per age group compared to the percentage on social media:
|Craft Beer||Social Media|
|Millennials (ages 20 to 30)||49%||83%|
|Gen X (ages 33 to 48)||40%||77%|
|Baby Boomers (ages 49 to 67)||29%||52%|
|Silent/WWII (ages 68 to 88)||22%||32%|
As Big Beer brands suffer in the store, they’re finding some success in the digital space. So the real question is then: will their new-found efforts pay off?
They are already.
The biggest news came recently from Bud Light sales, which benefited from a Facebook push at the end of last year:
During a four-week period from Dec. 3 to Dec. 31, Bud Light ran Page Post ads that appeared in all Facebook placements, including the mobile News Feed, visible to its 5.8 million fans. … Bud Light found that the campaign resulted in a 3.3% sales lift among households exposed to ads vs. the control group. Some 22.8 million U.S. households —20% of the total — were exposed to the campaign.
Naturally, this success has changed the way AB InBev plans to address future campaigns. Oddly enough, a battle is brewing (nailed it!) over the 2014 Winter Olympics, for which AB InBev has been a big sponsor in the past. When the Games head to Sochi, Russia, however, that may not be the case:
Asked to comment, Paul Chibe, VP-U.S. marketing for A-B InBev said in a statement: “Our focus for the 2014 Winter Olympics is our official sponsorship of the U.S. Olympics Team. With respect to advertising, TV media is not the only game in town. … We are completely interested in the Olympics. We are looking for innovation, and believe we can better connect with consumers through digital and social media given our marketing plan.”
The writing is on the wall. Or is that in the status update? Hope you like your beer advertisements clogging up your Facebook and Twitter feeds.
Oddly enough, it seems Big Beer isn’t as adept with social media interaction or engagement as much as they are with simple advertising.
For example, a recent mix-up by comedian Michael Ian Black involved Heineken International paying him $5,000 for a tweet to promote a new app for Dos Equis. Very standard, boring fare that most people might recognize as promoted advertising and skip.
But it was when people started calling him out on it that things got fun … and funny. What started out as a boring, paid tweet turned into a hilarious human interaction as his Twitter followers piled on the obvious plug for Dos Equis.
That’s the sweet spot for beer brands. Dos Equis is just lucky they happened to hire someone funny and quick-witted enough to turn it into a positive thing. As long as you have a sense of humor, at least.
Whether you see that mix-up as good or bad advertising, there’s no doubt Big Beer is trying hard to enter the realm of social media. Maybe they just don’t know what that means yet. On Wednesday, we’ll check out some examples to see if we can figure it out…
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac