Adam Withrington: It is time to stop selling beer like it's perfume

Related tags Advertising Marketing Carling

I just picked the latest issue of Marketing magazine. On its opinion page it asks four "experts" from its Marketing Society Forum whether "lager...

I just picked the latest issue of Marketing magazine. On its opinion page it asks four "experts" from its Marketing Society Forum whether "lager drinks care about the provenance of their beer?"

For those who don't know, Coors Brewers is running a new marketing campaign focusing on the ingredients and provenance of its flagship brand Carling.

Three of the forum were highly dismissive - one demonstrating a particularly unimpressive knowledge of his subject matter.

David Haseler strategy director for Smith & Milton decided that laddish drinkers of Carling are not interested in local provenance.

"The real story for Carling is that is is the one and only great British lager. Forget this middle-class obsession with provenance and get back to your roots."

Well all I can say is I pray that David is not strategising for your brands at the moment. Because he is obviously not aware that Carling's roots stem quite clearly back to Canada and the brand is owned by North American super brewer Molson Coors. Still they do speak English there I suppose…

Anyway I digress…

The general view of the marketers and one held by many other people is that drinkers of Carling couldn't give a stuff about the ingredients or where the barley comes from.

Do you know what? I think they are wrong. It is a bloody refreshing idea.

For years now this industry has been selling beer like it's perfume; like it's a fashion product. And sales have run accordingly - spiking and falling all over the place. One minute one brand is flavour of the month, the next it is the punch line to a joke, so low have its fortunes tumbled.

And all this results in is a culture of big brewers stealing tiny amounts of market share from each other - rather than growing the category.

The one major lager brand that saw slow, steady and enviable growth for years was Stella Artois. And that brand focused for two decades on provenance and quality. And when it moved away from that and engaged in a price war with the rest of its competitors so its stock fell.

Shouldn't this all be telling us something? Sales of beer continue to slide, no matter how clever a marketing campaign or brilliantly funny or sexy the advertising campaign. It is time to do something different.

My head was turned last week by advertising unveiled by Wells & Young's for Young's bitter. Displaying a field of barley, the strapline to the advert read: "We've travelled far and wide to find the best barley in the world. Turns out it's in Norfolk."

Perhaps Carling and Young's are onto something. Taking this tack might actually be the first step in the move towards creating a better image for beer.

Related topics Beer

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