22 Sep 2010 @ 12:43 PM 
 

Why the Budweiser National Happy Hour Will Ultimately Fail

 

Hey, everyone! Have you heard the news? FREE BEER! Yaaaaaaaaay!

That’s right! Anheuser-Busch-InBev is launching a new marketing campaign and it’s time to PAR-TAY! The new “Grab some Buds” campaign is targeted at the 21-30 demographic and culminates in a free national Budweiser Happy Hour on September 29th. [reference]

It warms the cockles of my jaded little heart.

This new campaign is targeted at the 21 – 30 demographic, which AB-InBev has determined is the primary reason that they’ve seen a 20% dip in unit sales for their flagship over the past 2 years. In order to invigorate the market and to bring people back into the fold of their bland overlords a new ad campaign and enormous marketing gimmick must be had because that’s what Budweiser does. They market things. They also, apparently, make beer.

Here’s the thing: I’m sure it will work.

For a day.

I ask you this: Who over the age of 21, among people who are likely to drink beer, hasn’t tried Budweiser? What are they really trying to achieve by doing this?

Let’s talk for a second about why Budweiser (the beer, not the company) is losing market share.

1) Many drinkers have discovered that they actually have taste buds and like things that taste good and have moved up to craft beer.

2) Many (other) drinkers have decided that Bud doesn’t really taste that different from Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Lite, Milwaukee’s Best Light Ice, PBR, Schaeffer’s, Stroh’s, Genny Light, or any one of hundreds of other sub-premium adjunct pilsners and have moved DOWN in price point to get the same crap taste for less money because, hey – have you noticed that the economy isn’t that great? Why pay more for what is essentially the same product? Or maybe they’re just hipsters.

This happy hour WILL work. People who are predisposed to drink Budweiser and who like getting trashed on a Wednesday night will show up for their free sample of Bud. They’ll stick around and have a few more – though I’d be curious to find out if they keep drinking Bud once it’s on their dime. Bars and restaurants will be pressured by Budweiser distributors to buy extra kegs to stock up for the obvious DELUGE of business that they’re sure to get on the 29th, but don’t worry, they’ll kick in an extra keg if you buy enough, or maybe snag you some tickets to the ballgame. You know, a little quid pro quo to get you through your day.

Sales will look up, investors and stock market lackeys will be mollified because 3rd quarter sales look like they might have some life, but in the end, will they really pick up a big slew of new Budweiser drinkers to revive and sustain their flagging brand?

I don’t see it happening.

Tags Tags: , , , ,
Categories: industry, marketing
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 23 Sep 2010 @ 11 13 PM

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Responses to this post » (10 Total)

 
  1. Adam says:

    I think it’s fair to say that the one marketing lesson InBev will learn from this is that 20-somethings like free beer.

    • Izzy says:

      A little cfoomrt in this department:Budweiser wasn’t always the top-selling beer brand in the US. In fact, I was surprised to learn it took that position only in the ’70s.I discovered the former champion from a vintage ad on the Radio Classics station on Sirius/XM: Schaefer Beer. Never heard of it? There’s a reason why. Schaefer did exactly what AB InBev is doing: and assumed that their brand was so strong that they could get away with it. In my lifetime, it went from the dominant brand to one I’d never heard of.Could the same thing happen to Budweiser? Well, times have changed in two different ways. First, the bad news: microbreweries and much better quality beer are all over the place. And there are very good beers coming from medium size breweries like Sam Adams and New Belgium that have the potential to compete directly with the big boys.The good news? Budweiser has a much better marketing department than Schaefer did. And the beer you drink has become as much a cultural symbol as a matter of taste. In a previous post, you mentioned your sister and her family viewing your appreciation for microbrews with suspicion. The funny thing is (and this ties into the marketing genius) that Anheuser Busch managed to attach different, even contradictory, cultural meanings to the exact same product. Bud Light has been connected with the gay community for decades literally even back in the early ’90s when I was coming out and gay people were much less socially acceptable, Bud Light was heavily advertised in every bar, sponsored all kinds of events, etc. That kind of advantage is difficult to overcome. But not impossible. Quality may yet win out. And the Belgians and Brazilians who run AB-InBev may not be nearly as savvy at understanding the US market as Anheuser Busch was.

  2. Mark says:

    I think the best thing we craft beer lovers can do is actually go, have a sample, and then complain loudly about how crappy it is. Tell everyone at the bar that if this is what they serve, you won’t be visiting anytime soon. Be nice though, if they have something decent, then buy one, but if all they have is horse piss, make a fuss.

  3. Leslie D. Martin says:

    “Who over the age of 21, among people who are likely to drink beer, hasn’t tried Budweiser?”

    Yes, we have tried it. Which is why we don’t drink it.

  4. Budweiser and other similar beers are hangovers from WWII wartime production techniques, where beechwood was used to accelerate fermentation, along with other changes to maintain freshness for long transits, etc. All impacted the taste of the beer. Budweiser and its cohorts only remained popular because the returning war veterans grew use to the beer they drank while in the service. With all the good craft beers available now in the US market, this is a really foolish marketing move. A free beer, consumed by a person who has switched to craft brews, will just be a solid reminder of why they gave up their “bud” in the first place.

  5. P ODriscoll says:

    I live in St Louis MO and have for all my life. I was a dedicated Busch drinker since I was 21 (really since I was 17) becouse I wanted to support the home team, local jobs, and after all this was the company that owned the St Louis Cardinals! but I have not touched a drop of AB since the Busch family sold out to Inbev. I stoped drinking it becouse I felt like the local company sold out the local workers. It was however the day I discovered Craft brewers. A very good day, Inbev can keep the swill. I hope they drowned in it.

  6. Hutch says:

    Where did you find Craft brewers where is the manufacturer, USA?, and what types of beer do they make, light, dark and wheat and so on?

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