02 Nov 2009 @ 12:31 PM 
 

I’m a bad human being because I drink good beer.

 

If you haven’t read this brilliant article that popped up this morning on Ad Age using psychographics to determine what your beer says about you, well.. hold on tight. This is hardcore science, ladies and gentlemen. Prepare to be blown away.

This chart shows the correlation between the number of pirates in the world and global warming.

This chart shows the correlation between the number of pirates in the world and global warming.


This marketing organization called Mindset Media “interviewed more than 2,600 people online in August and September” and created a profile that you fit in to. As internet interviews polls are incontrovertible truth, this is now a statement of your human condition and the results of this will now be used in every commercial for every sporting event you will watch for the next 6 – 8 months (or at least until a new internet interview poll has been posted or focus group has been convened).

Here’s the thing: I’m not about to say that there’s no merit to this kind of “study” but there is absolutely no merit to this kind of “study”. The results presented are the kind of thing that tends to get published by people who have very little understanding of how statistics actually work. They’re the type of statistics you see in baseball games when they’re trying to fill time.

“10 out of the last 16 meetings between these teams have included a hit batsman, so you can be sure to see some fireworks tonight!”

Nice try, but past performance is not indicative of future results and, even more importantly for this specific column, correlation does not imply causation. I might repeat this phrase again.

I hope they got paid well for this it because it is hi-larious. I’m almost tempted to cut and paste the entire article over here, but that’s bad form. Here are some “statistical” tidbits about people according to what they drink. So that I’m not dismissed (as some of the commenters on this column were) for disagreeing with the article just because I don’t like being pigeonholed (though I don’t), here’s commentary on the entire crapassery.

Budweiser
True to form, Bud drinkers are sensible, grounded and practical. They are the polar opposite of daydreamers and don’t easily get carried away. These beer drinkers also don’t like authority—can anyone say union?—and are emotionally steady people who live in the here and now. […] Budweiser drinkers are 42% more likely to drive a truck than the average person, 68% more likely to choose a credit card with flexible payment terms and 42% more likely to use breath-freshening strips every day.

“Can anyone say union?”

Is this suggesting that there’s no authority structure in a union? Can anyone say Hoffa?

Bud Light
Bud Light drinkers profile as lacking in carefulness. They are grounded like their Bud brethren, but respect authority. Bud Lighters can also have frat boy-like personalities, particularly when it comes to personal risk-taking. […] Bud Light drinkers are also 48% more likely than the average person to play the lottery every day and 34% more likely to never buy organic products.

So, if someone drinks Bud Light they are well-grounded, and carelessly respect authority by… binge drinking, if I read this right.

Have you noticed how much these read like horoscopes?

Michelob Ultra
Michelob Ultra drinkers rate high in superiority; that is, they think highly of themselves and can be a little bit conceited. They care what other people think about them and want to appear perfect. […] Michelob Ultra drinkers are 43% more likely than the average person to consider sustainability a priority, and 34% more likely to buy life insurance.

They want to appear perfect, but they’re more likely to buy life insurance. How can you tell what people want from an internet interview poll? I’ll give them the conceited part… but how do they measure this?

14. Are you conceited?
Not at all
A little bit
Quite a bit
A lot

Corona
“Where’s the party?” is probably an oft-asked question by Corona and Corona Light drinkers. They are busy and energetic people who are also extremely extroverted. […] But the life-of-the-party Corona drinkers also have an altruistic side; they care deeply about other people and see themselves as giving and warm.

Corona drinkers are 91% more likely than average to buy recycled products and 38% more likely to own three or more flat-screen TVs.

Turns out Corona and Corona Light drinkers do not differ as much as Bud and Bud Light drinkers do. Or maybe authority doesn’t come into the picture when you’re talking PAR-TAY and skunky beer.

Also: Three or more flat-screen TV’s and you’re drinking Corona!? You cheap bastards.

Heineken
There’s a slang term that could sum up Heineken drinkers: posers. These self-assured people believe they are exceptional, get low scores on modesty and high scores on self-esteem.

Ah, so they’re Michelob Ultra drinkers. Righto.

People who choose Heineken as their favorite beer are 58% more likely to have American Express cards, 45% more likely to be early adopters of new mobile phones, and 29% more likely to drive sports cars.

So are those the AmEx cards that you have to pay off all at once, or at the AmEx cards with the flexible payment schedules? Because I’m not sure I understand how these people are different from the previous “demographics.” It seems to me that they could be both Bud drinkers and Michelob Ultra drinkers. Maybe it’s the sports cars that set them apart.

The question I have is: If you’re more likely to be an early adopter of a new mobile phone, how many flat-screen TV’s (on average) do you own?

We’re starting to get into the good stuff, next:

Blue Moon
The personality traits of people who prefer Blue Moon, a Belgian style wheat beer, tracked similarly to the same type of people who prefer craft beers—which means Blue Moon drinkers probably don’t know it’s a Molson Coors Brewing Co. family product made in Colorado. […] Blue Moonies are socially liberal and usually quite willing to go against convention. They really hate moral authorities, and believe children should be exposed to moral dilemmas and allowed to come to their own conclusions. […] People who drink Blue Moon beer are 105% more likely than the average person to drive hybrid cars, 77% more likely to own Apple Mac laptops, 65% more likely to purchase five pairs or more of sneakers every year, and 32% more likely to not be registered voters.

To summarize: Blue Moon drinkers are godless socialist hippies. Thank god. I’m used to getting hit with that label because I enjoy good things. I love the suggestion here that if Blue Moon drinkers knew that their beer was made by Molson Coors that they wouldn’t drink it. That’s brilliant.

Craft Beers
These specialty made beers get lumped into one category both because there are fewer fans (and thus less statistically significant data) of them, but also because the personalities of one type fairly well describe another.

Or maybe craft beer drinkers are more likely to be savvy internet users and not take asinine internet interviews polls. There should be statistically fewer Henekin drinkers than craft beer drinkers considering that the import market isn’t that much bigger than the craft beer market and this is one beer out of the entire segment which also includes Corona and Guinness.

But, hey.. whatever. It’s your “statistics”, if you want to make market segment judgment calls without actually understanding the market, it’s all good by me. Good luck with “marketing.”

This group is more likely to spend time thinking about beer rather than work. They are more open-minded than most people, seek out interesting and varied experiences and are intellectually curious. Craft-beer drinkers also skew as having a lower sense of responsibility—they don’t stress about missed deadlines and tend to be happy-go-lucky about life.

Craft-beer lovers are 153% more likely to always buy organic, 52% more likely to be fans of the show “The Office” and 36% more likely to be the ones to choose the movie they are going to see at the theater.

Hear, hear. I am open-minded, intellectually curious, and pretty happy-go-lucky. But by god you will watch what I want to see IN THE DAMN MOVIE THEATER.

(ahem)

‘Scuse me.

Irresponsible?

17. Are you responsible?
Not at all
A little bit
Quite a bit
A lot

Finally:

Abstainers
It probably doesn’t take a psychographic profile to discover that those people who refuse to drink beer at all don’t like to loosen up very much. They are socially conservative and see many issues as black and white. Teetotalers honor tradition and authority and prefer a less-hectic social life.

People who turn down beer are 50% more likely to call themselves Republican, and are 30% more likely to never buy organic products.

This is the only one that I can’t pick apart somehow. You didn’t need to do a survey to find this out.

So, as I was saying earlier, correlation does not imply causation. The 2,600 people interviewed who took this poll may have fallen into later-defined “demographics” but these things.. these percentages? They have nothing to do with the beer that they’re drinking. There are a thousand other things that may influence these other decisions. If it appears to be unrelated to beer, chances are it’s unrelated to beer.

My point in all this? For the love of god please don’t take this kind of thing seriously, especially if you’re trying to create marketing based off of it. Give consumers a little credit, for crissakes.

After all, you’re one, too. But what do I know? I’m an irresponsible craft beer drinker, and so happy-go-lucky I could barely manage ire for this post.

Tags Tags: , , ,
Categories: marketing, media, op-ed
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 02 Nov 2009 @ 08 16 PM

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Responses to this post » (10 Total)

 
  1. miss kate, the g&t enthusiast says:

    this “survey” is a joke, right? Right? “153% more likely to buy organic”? “lacking in carefulness”? “Posers” as a newfangled slang term that must be defined? Seriously? GTFOHWTBS.

    Aaaaand, um, how about some people turn down beer because…they have decided that they don’t LIKE beer. Turning beer down doesn’t mean you aren’t drinking something else instead.

  2. Russ says:

    The same shysters had an article last year that determined that “Mac Owners Are Just Like, Well, the Mac Guy.”

    Well, sure. Except I shave, tuck in my shirt, and generally look a whole lot more like John Hodgman. And I’m not banging Drew Barrymore.

    All I take from this “psychographic” “study” (and the latter deserves the quotes more than the former) is that the brilliant minds behind its execution have all the perspective of frat guys at a kegger. The beers they’ve chosen are the campus sluts — cheap, easy and forgettable. Is it any wonder marketing types want to toss out some empty compliments for a chance to score? A-B/InBev puts out.

  3. notaro says:

    It won’t let me get to the article without a login. I just read the excerpts, but did they at some point in the article claim causation?

    Anyway I don’t really see the problem. The psychographic profile language sounds silly. It’s just a story someone makes up after reading the results. But that doesn’t mean that the numbers are wrong.

  4. erik says:

    No, the article implies causation. “You drink beer X, thus you are more likely to be this way.” Where it’s really much more, “If you are this way, you may drink beer X.”

    The numbers are probably right, I just doubt that they’re related, in any way whatsoever, to beer consumption.

  5. notaro says:

    Causation is a pretty crazy idea. But description through correlation seem plausible.

    It’s hard for me to get past the psychographic language and take it seriously though. I would be reluctant to rely on a single survey of that size to make serious decisions. If those relationships persisted over several samples that might be more valuable. But if it’s mostly confirming things we can already guess (like craft brew drinkers are fussy and less price sensitive than bud drinkers) , it’s hard to see how it could justify the cost of the research.

  6. erik says:

    It’s hard for me to get past the psychographic language and take it seriously though. […] it’s hard to see how it could justify the cost of the research.

    I totally and wholeheartedly agree with these two statements.

  7. Mike Clarke says:

    Drinkers of commercial American beer: 100% no taste losers.

  8. Coleman says:

    i drink craft bear because i like beer with flavor. The only time in my life beer like that was good to me was when i was young with a beer bong, and its what everyone else drank, then i discovered good beer. To me budweiser is weak in flavor and not worth the money.

  9. Coleman says:

    I guess any beer can be good though, I just dont think i should be judged for my preference.

  10. whoah this weblog is fantastic i love reading your posts.
    Stay up the good work! You realize, lots of persons are hunting around for this information,
    you can help them greatly.

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