A Move Up For Beer

March 1, 2006
/ Print / Reprints /
/ Text Size+

A Move Up For Beer
Sarah Theodore  
A move up for beer
The U.S. beer industry has struggled for several years against competition from wine and spirits, but the past few months have shown that the big brewers are ready for a change. I recently attended the Nightclub & Bar show in Las Vegas and saw a number of examples of the ways brewers are attempting to redefine their products.
Living up to his reputation for being a straight-shooter, Miller Brewing Co. Chief Executive Officer Norman Adami addressed the audience of bar and nightclub operators, saying the industry was guilty of too much “sameness.” Brewers, he said, had created too many of the same products and advertised them in the same way for too long. Even more important, he said there was too much of a specific kind of sameness — male-oriented advertising that used base humor to appeal to the lowest common denominator.
With the aid of a video montage of beer advertising, including ads from his own company, Adami wryly said he “can’t imagine why anyone would get the impression that beer is less sophisticated and more down-market than wine and spirits.” Such marketing, he said, had made beer look like the “official drink of the knucklehead.”
Just as the beer industry was headed in this direction, consumer trends took a turn in the opposite. Demand was increasing for “mainstream sophistication,” and products from beverages to blue jeans were differentiating themselves by allowing consumers to personalize their purchases.
Miller is turning the trend with more upscale positioning for Miller Genuine Draft, calling it “Beer. Grown Up,” and premium imagery for several other brands. The company used the Academy Awards to launch the MGD campaign — yet another example of change, as the Oscars arguably have a larger female audience than male.
For its part, Anheuser-Busch used last month’s Super Bowl broadcast to launch “Here’s to Beer,” an initiative created in conjunction with the Beer Institute, to play up beer’s social value and lack of pretension. Consumers were directed to a Web site that featured beer facts, product guides and recipes for cocktails made with beer. At the show in Las Vegas, A-B featured its new Peels malt beverage for women, as well as fruit-flavored “shots” meant to be mixed with beer for customized flavor options.
These may be great ideas, but perceptions will take a while to change, even within the industry. For example, the Miller ads that drew the biggest response from the audience during Adami’s address were the new Milwaukee’s Best ads, which the company kept more traditional, calling the brand “a beer brewed for a man’s taste.” In the ads, men showing their more feminine side are crushed by cans of Milwaukee’s Best.
In the brewers’ favor, the two beer segments that continue to grow are craft and import beers, indicating that going upscale works for beer. In addition, women have been largely responsible for the popularity of wine and spirits, and they are finally being factored into beer marketing. But it’s going to take a lot of education to redefine beer, for both consumers and the industry as a whole. BI
Sneak Peek
Cover profile — Bravo! Foods International
Annual Beer report
Beverage R&D — IFT preview
Packaging —  Primary packaging trends
Special Supplement — Beverage Product
Special packaging issue
Category focus — Wine & spirits
Beverage R&D — Energy ingredients
Packaging — Package design
Distribution — Driver meetings

 Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Beverage Industry.  

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

International Pineapple Day at Bahama Breeze

In celebration of International Pineapple Day on April 2, Bahama Breeze locations across the country invited the media and consumers to celebrate with cocktails that feature the tropical flavor of the pineapple. (Photos by Liz Parker and Jennifer Haderspeck)

10/10/13 2:00 pm EDT

Ditch the weighting agents: A cost effective solution for delivering flavors and actives

Available On Demand Learn how to reduce costs and energy use by enabling high oil load emulsions, eliminating the need for weighting agents like brominated vegetable oil (BVO).


Beverage Industry Magazine

BI April 2014 cover

2014 April

The April 2014 Beverage Industry includes a cover story on moonshine, as well as articles about CSD brands, whiskey, and more. Check it out today!

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Beverage Insider eNewsletter

Are you an Insider? Subscribe to Beverage Industry’s weekly e-newsletter to receive news headlines, new product information and magazine highlights.   

Spirits Segments

Which spirits segment will perform the best in 2014?
View Results Poll Archive


Cleaning-in-Place: Dairy, Food and Beverage Operations, 3rd Edition

This book addresses the principles of cleaning operations, water supply issues and the science of detergents and disinfectants.

More Products


Beverage Industry Webinars are an easy, effective and convenient way to get educated and informed on the latest industry trends and topics. All Webinars are FREE unless indicated. For more information, check out our Events page!


facebook40 twitter    youtubelinked