Lessons From Beer: The Era of Discovery Marketing

MH3 —  June 11, 2011

Michael Browne has worked for a number of different industries, but today at the Canadian Sponsorship Forum, he was presenting information he gained from marketing beer.

“In beer, you’re dealing with people’s lives,” Michael began, commenting on the great deal of brand loyalty and connection people have with their alcoholic beverage of choice. Over time, the industry has become incredibly segmented as it has grown, which is important because many beer marketers have cut their teeth doing mass marketing, but they need a different playbook – discovery marketing. This includes niche beers, like Hoegaarden, Mill St. and Stella Artois.

And discovery marketing works. Every year, the Harris polling company provides a brand equity study, interviewing 20,000 consumers across the U.S. asking about brand advocacy, commitment, reputation and respect. In most segments, the results are fairly predictable: the largest advertiser has the greatest equity. But in beer, the rankings are different – the top three beers in terms of equity in the U.S. are Blue Moon Beer, Samuel Adams Lager and Guinness Stout. Blue Moon has 1/100th the advertising budget of the big spenders, yet has considerably better brand equity.

According to Michael, the four steps of discovery marketing are:

  • define and target only the best fit locations
  • create brand meaning with every contact point
  • create execution plans that optimize impact and ROI
  • measure the inputs and outputs and adapt execution – repeat

He then compared some key features of marketing 1.0 or discovery marketing, or marketing 2.0:

  • 1.0  Method: The funnel (go from mass awareness to a narrow number of consumers)
  • 2.0  Method: The ramp (start with the narrowest target, the advocates that you use as spokespeople for your brand, and then expand)
  • 1.0  Lifespan: The 25-year cycle
  • 2.0  Lifespan: The slow build
  • 1.0 Toolbox: Blanket the media landscape
  • 2.0 Toolbox: Focus on the influencer, select specific placement, plan and execute every consumer contact, and use social media for reputation instead of image.
  • 1.0  Creative content: Deep and broad using advertising, media, interactive, sponsorship, retail programming, innovation, packaging
  • 2.0  Creative content: Organized around a single, memorable experience
  • 1.0  Alliances: Aim for relevance – “everyone likes me”
  • 2.0  Alliances: Deepen the brand
  • 1.0  ROI: More investment good; less investment bad
  • 2.0  ROI: Measure brand as an asset and consider net present value