I like beer. I mean, I actually like the taste of beer. Gone are my college days of knocking back a few “Natty Lights” before going out for a night of partying. Today, it is all about the actual quality of beer (and not just about having a good time). And beer marketers looking to connect with millennials need variety.
Earlier this week I posted about McDonald’s attempt to pry millennials away from Subway and other “make-your-own” quick-service restaurant chains with the McWrap. To the Golden Arches’ credit, they realized that an absence of choice, which is highly valued by this generation, may have been the problem.
“Sub-premium” classic beers, such as Busch, Miller High Life and Keystone Light, are starting to feel the effects of this in a different way. Beers in this segment fell to 13.5% of overall beer sales at supermarkets in 2012, down from 15.7% in 2009, according to SymphonyIRI.
So where are all the sales going? Well, one factor is that the largest consumers of this segment, the blue-collar crowd, have been hit hard by the recession. But the larger factor that marketers should be paying attention to is the fact that millennials are making beer something more than it used to be. It is more than just a way to pass the time with your best drinking buddies. Beer, particularly craft beer, has become somewhat sophisticated. Some would even identify themselves as beer connoisseurs, a term previously only connected with wine in the drink world.
Go to any trendy restaurant or bar in your area and the odds are that there will be at least a dozen beers on tap – which brings me back to my original subject: variety. Millenials want choice, and craft beer now gives them the ability to choose. Are you a New Castle guy? How about a Blue Moon girl? Why not go with a little Magic Hat?
MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch have already picked up on this and are doing a good job of staying relevant in the millennial conversation. MillerCoors introduced Redd’s Apple Ale earlier this year, while A-B has pushed its Bud Light Platinum hard since last year, investing $32 million in the product’s launch. But the point to take note of here is that as millennials start to bring in more money and become bigger consumers in the beer, or any, industry, brand marketers can’t hang their hat on just one product.