In the past few years, America’s largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch has stressed product attributes in an attempt to regain the perception of quality around its flagship brew, Budweiser. Their recent campaigns site Bud’s longstanding “commitment” to quality ingredients and original recipe, but do beer drinkers really care?
This is an age old question that marketers too often forget to ask. Sure the fact that A-B uses premium ingredients and processes matters to the company and its operations, but when it comes to picking a six-pack, is “quality and commitment” what goes through consumer’s mind when they’re looking for a cold one? As it turns out, it’s probably not top of mind nor their biggest motivator.
Over the past year sales for Bud have declined under their attribute driven campaign. To stem the sales decline, A-B and its agency have returned to the more emotional approach for selling that served it so well for so long. (Think the old the 1980s campaign “For all you do, This Bud’s for you”)
While highlighting product benefits is important, these benefits must also connect with the consumer in a way that resonates with them. Consumers will make their own judgments about the “quality” of your product based on their experience. As advertisers it’s our job to build emotions into the experience they have with a brand.
Vancouver Island Brewery is a great local example of a brewer who gets the power of the emotional connection. The company was the first brewery on Vancouver Island, and it is still one of the largest. While their beers are made from the highest quality ingredients, and their packs are the freshest on the Island, their marketing department has recognized that these attributes are not the emotional drivers that bond beer-drinkers to their brands.
VIB has focused the branding of its North American style lager, Vancouver Islander, on what bonds people from Vancouver Island together. VIB’s aim for their latest campaign is not to establish awareness around Islander’s attributes, but rather to have the brand become a social badge that tells other Islanders you are one of them.
Stay tuned to see how beer drinkers in America and on Vancouver Island will respond to beer that not only quenches their thirst, but gives them a tangible connection to their tribe.