What to do when you have become a daddy brand?
If I would need to name iconic US beer, previously I would have said Budweiser. Bland, boring and easy to drink (pretty much same applies to Finnish beers, not to mention Bud Light). Recently when I think about US beers, the first thing that comes to my mind are all the awesome craft beers, which have been hit Budweiser surprisingly hard especially with millennials. Actually 44% of drinkers aged 21 to 27 have never tasted Budweiser. This is a challenge for Budweiser. If you don´t cultivate new users, eventually you will become meaningless.
Their latest social experiment was a nice execution to attract the new users. If you have not tasted Budweiser, you do not necessarily have any idea how it tastes. This ad exposes Budweiser in new light. Does not ridicule or make fun of hipsters, just gives the good old surprise & delight:
Budweiser´s Superbowl ad went to a totally wrong direction in my opinion. ALthough I am always in favor of taking strong stance in your advertising, ridiculing people who could potentially be your consumers is not wise:
The message is strong, but it feels quite redneck as well. It probably appeals to current Budweiser heavy drinkers, but would it pave new way for the brand. Also we know that where beer growth is stagnant, the craft beers and import beers are growing. Would Budweiser start ridiculing foreigners, because US beer consumers want to drink Pilsner Urquell rather than old boring Budweiser?
Even though you drink craft beers, you are likely to drink regular average beers as well. Would you choose the brand that ridicules your hobby and passion? The strong stance Budweiser takes is also sign of weakness. The best way to address your competition if your bigger player is to ignore them. No one roots for Goliath going against David. It gives those Davids also ammunition to go on offensive (and craft breweries are the real challenger brands):
One thing is for certain, craft beers are not fad anymore. Where the regular beer market is shrinking, craft beers are growing and already contribute 11% of Beer market in US and the number still keeps growing. It keeps growing so fast, that total craft beer market share trumps Budweiser. No wonder, that Budweiser is afraid. Naturally Budweiser is way bigger than biggest craft breweries (there is not really any independent craft brewery in top 20 of the most popular beers), so their decision to go against smaller breweries is mind-boggling. Addressing the challenger makes you look weaker, especially if you do not have good alternative. People love underdog stories, but the underdog story has to be believable. The biggest brewery in US is not a likely underdog.
The decline for Budweiser has not only come from craft beers and imports. The biggest beer in US is Bud Light, and it has cannibalized regular Budweiser sales as well. Maybe Budweiser should make ads to ridicule light beer drinkers as well?
Their challenge is simple:
“(Budweiser is) mostly to older gentlemen and country kids. Our clientele likes the craft beers.”
Jessica Dewey, Bar Owner
So Budweiser has to make a choice. Do they try to attract millennials and ditch those horses as well? Or will they slowly let the brand deteriorate to daddy brand while their parent company buys craft breweries to attract the millennials? Then they can hope that the next generation of hipsters will find Budweiser charmingly retro like Pabst Blue Ribbon.