“I don’t always drink beer, but when I do I prefer Dos Equis,” says the Most Interesting Man in the World. While the import beer category is faltering, the Most Interesting Man in the World encourages consumers to “Stay thirsty, my friend,” and helped Dos Equis XX Lager Especial’s sales leap 27 percent in 2009, in U.S. grocery, drug, convenience and mass merchandise outlet (excluding Wal-Mart) reports Information Resources Inc., Chicago.

Analysts interviewed for Beverage Industry’s Beer Report on page 12 said that Dos Equis could have the most recognizable advertising campaign in the beer industry this year. Not to discredit Dos Equis’s expanded U.S. distribution, but it’s easy to see where its catchy marketing played a valuable role in the brand’s promotion while many beer brands suffered during the economic downturn of 2009.

Marketing, in addition to the consumer trend to trade down, also played a role for sub-premium beer brands Miller High Life, Keystone Light and Pabst Blue Ribbon’s success this year. Miller High Life focuses its commercials on the little guys; Keystone Light’s “Keystone Light’s always smooth, even when you’re not” campaign has been well-promoted in several markets; and Pabst Blue Ribbon has been positioned as a hipster beer.

“Brands that continue to promote themselves are in a good place right now,” says Roman Shuster, research analyst in Euromonitor International’s Chicago office. “Manufacturers can’t step off the marketing pedal. They need to continue spending money behind the brands, and if they do that their product will continue to be successful and grow very well.”

While most craft brewers don’t run national advertising campaigns, they see the value in promotion, even with their sales trending upward. Beer festivals and tastings have been ways craft brewers are nurturing the emerging craft beer culture.

“One of the reasons the craft brewers have been so successful is these craft brewers have really banded together and tried to promote not their products but the entire craft beer category as a whole,” Shuster says. “As a result, by pulling their resources together, they have been able to compete against the massive marketing budgets of major brewers.”    

As the beer industry works to turn around slumping sales, I like the direction the funny, witty, offbeat, grassroots promotions are going. Beer is one beverage that U.S. consumers really enjoy, and the entire beer category has done a good job of raising its profile. I can’t wait to see more.

And arguably the second most interesting man in the world, Rick Rouan, joins Beverage Industry this month as associate editor. Rick is a graduate of E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, where he also minored in economics. He most recently worked for The Vindicator in Youngstown, Ohio. If you would like to drop Rick a note, you can reach him at rouanr@bnpmedia.com.

Related Links:
2010 Beer Report