What Can The Beer Can Teach Us About Marketing?

By Patrick Nycz

Tailgate Time!

Tailgate Time!

Tailgate season. To a lot of people, that means football…and beer.

Big beer brands no doubt love this kind of thinking and make sure there are plenty of tailgate promotions in place to capitalize on bulk purchases.

The generally accepted rule of thumb, known as the Pareto Principle, is that roughly 60% of the beer sold to 20% of the consumers.

Knowing that, one would think beer brands shouldn’t have to work that hard to sell most of their product.

But work hard they do because they know a large percentage (40% and up) of the market is not 100% brand loyal. Add that to wanting to grow the brand, and it is pretty clear that beer manufacturers are incentivized to get—and keep—the market’s attention. And since beer brand loyalty is mostly based on taste, the bigger brands such as Miller Lite, Heineken, Bud Light, Coors Light and others don’t really want to touch that (New Coke anyone?). What they do work hard at is packaging.

Packaging innovation drives trial.  Who doesn’t want to see the mountains turn blue on a chilled can of Coors?

It is in this way that beer packaging innovation can look like a marketing campaign…an interactive marketing campaign that drives trial and, if done right, is built around the brand (cold blue mountains, anyone?) and helps distinguish the product in the marketplace. The core product does not change, but the messaging around it and the way the consumer interacts with it does in new (and sometimes fun) ways.

Even though this Coors Light commercial is meant to be a humourous look at the seriousness beer manufacturers have for packaging development, I think it hits the nail on the head. It does a great job of showing just how important packaging is to beer brands.

Let’s count the packaging technology featured in this ad:

  1. Frost brew liner
  2. Two-stage cold activation (the mountains turn blue when chilled)
  3. New double vented wide mouth

The “can scientist” then proclaims, “I can’t think of any possible way to improve this can.” Maybe he should spend some quality time on the couch looking for competitive beer commercials.

Here is a short list of can “improvements” that other beer brands are rolling out:

The Punch Top can (Miller Lite). These were called “cannon balls” back in the day. Nothing like using the mass market stage to sell the ability to drink beer faster as innovation.

Bowtie shaped can (Budwieser).  I don’t think Miller or Coors are worried about this one.

Grip can (Miller Lite). Now extra bumpy for a better grip on your beverage!

The Write-On Label (Bud Light). According to the ad it was the latest innovation in social networking.

The Vortex Bottle (Miller Lite). I wonder how this pitch sounded? Yes, spinning beer right down gullets is the next big thing! Ain’t technology neat?

“Ignite” Bottle (Heineken). I bet how the tech guys behind the Vortex bottle are rethinking what constitutes packaging “tech.”

Playable “Edison” Beer Bottle (Becks). Can I make a request? How about 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall?

Removable-Lid Can (Sly Fox). Who needs a Punch Top can? Pretty smart for a small brand.


Open the can and have a glass of beer!

CO2 Ball (Guinness). In my opinion, the best innovation of value in this list. Seriously…it provides a CO2-like tap product from a can.

In my opinion, the only innovation of value in this list. Seriously provides a CO2-like tap product from a can.

In the same way that beer packaging innovation acts like a marketing campaign to sell the same beer in a new way, a marketing campaign works to wrap the same products and/or services in a new message. A message that is tied to the core brand and helps distinguish the product in the marketplace. If done correctly, this may invite trial of the brand’s product or service, possibly re-engage old customers and if it is really on-the-mark, excite the core loyal customer base.

At idc, we pay close attention to what is going on in the world of marketing and bring back the best to help grow idc client’s businesses. Does this mean we’re going to recommend a vortex campaign for an idc client? Probably not, unless the marketing campaign is founded in strategy that clearly matches the value proposition of the brand.


About the Author: Patrick Nycz is the President at idc, an integrated strategic marketing firm. He is currently doing research for another beer-related post. Who knew research could be so much fun! He spends his days, among other things, as a business owner, marketing strategist, account exec, cheerleader, salesman and excitable creative. Get connected to Patrick at LinkedIn, follow him on Twitter @PatrickNycz or email him at patrick@idc-marketing.com. Also “like” idc on Facebook!
This entry was published on October 7, 2013 at 3:47 pm. It’s filed under advertising, brand, brand affinity, consumer goods, consumer packaged goods, marketing, new product, packaging, Patrick Nycz, positioning, retail, sales, strategy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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