Because I have a hard time finishing a thought in just one post, I wanted to add something to my comments on AB InBev’s problem with Millennials.
While my original goal was to answer some of the “why” regarding young drinker’s lack of interest in Budweiser and Bud Light, it occurred to me that the other side should be examined – why are Millennials so damned interested in craft beer? Lots of reasons, surely.
Why are young, small craft breweries different than AB InBev? In a lot of ways, but when it comes to the main reason of my original piece – influence on Millennial-aged drinkers – I think today’s breweries are at an advantage because they HAVE to be open, honest and connected to succeed in a local marketplace. They rely on their community for financial support, but they also rely on them for word of mouth and emotional support.
When we say young people love craft beer, it’s easy to point toward key aspects of innovation and taste, both which are leaps and bounds (purposefully) above Budweiser or Bud Light. But I’d argue that there’s more to it than that.
As I pointed out in my original post, Millennials are an interesting group, mostly because Big Beer advertising actually works on them and gets them to think something like Bud is cool enough to buy. But at the point of sale, it’s a no-go and they opt for something else.
Here’s the path we go down at this point:
Young consumers are increasingly turning from corporate or assumed “false” advertising. Those that fall within the 18 to 33 age range are more likely to support a cause campaign and participate in fundraising than their older counterparts. Why does this matter? Because this means we can assume Millennials more easily find connections among local businesses and people, especially if they want a shared experience. (Hint: they do)
Craft beer is becoming increasingly local. The idea of national saturation may not actually be an issue so much as finding a balance among our hometowns/counties/states. As more breweries continue to open around the country, they’ll be opening in smaller locations and not necessarily big cities. At a time when many Americans live within 10 miles of a brewery the idea of a neighborhood bar or brewery is once again the norm.
The “story” of a business or brand is important to young people. Think Big Beer doesn’t know this? Perhaps that’s why AB InBev puts increasing emphasis on Budweiser as “America’s Largest Local Brewer.” Millennials are active in supporting causes they believe in and if they turn away from what they deem to be corporate or misleading products, they’ll be more interested in what they perceive as honest and personal. Maybe something like that brewery down the street that doesn’t advertise, but has employees and brewers not afraid to strike up a conversation.
Millennial drinkers are looking for instant gratification. As shoppers, young consumers put a premium on ease, efficiency and convenience. If they have a local brewery that’s easily accessible, offers a quality product and makes them feel good as a consumer, that’s a recipe for success.
All this is part of a larger “local” movement among Millennial-aged consumers, which includes a focus on regional craft beers and authenticity when it comes to food and drink purchases. As a cohort that is apt to dine and drink together, this is all a whirlwind of pressures that can push Millennials to focus more on locally-sourced craft beer.
If Millennials are five times more likely to be influenced on beer purchases based on word of mouth than any other demographic, how do you think all this plays out?
It’s easy, it ends with a 21-to-33 year old sitting at their local bar or brewery with their friends. Not with a Bud in-hand.
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac