In 2020 we are seeing an explosion of new marketing ideas and concepts that are based in historical morays and philosophies. Marketing is a blend of strategy that seeks to capture technology, and innovation and package it for sale. Over the years, many tactics have been used to sell alcohol.  From frogs croaking out the name of the product to using the sheer beauty of the location to sell the product, these approaches have made beverage marketing the powerhouse that it is. Now faced with numerous challenges in tactics, demographics and a general mistrust from the consumer, brands need to once again adapt. 

Strategy for Attention 

Why do iconic campaign tunes or jingles  stick in our head, and why do they become Iconic. The answer is advertising and it is only after the marketing process that brands will spend money on advertising. This paper explores how modern marketing has and will continue to change with shifting demographics and spending habits. 

In beverage marketing, gaining the consumers attention is key.  Through romantic and oftentimes sexually charged imagery, catchy taglines, and the allure of luxury, consumers attention is drawn to the product. Taking a deeper dive in motivations the industry should take a deeper look at the origins of the AIDA method as it applies to advertising campaigns. This approach was developed in 1898 to explain personal selling techniques in life insurance.  

 The hierarchical, four step process that Lewis devised uses cognitive phrases that consumers relate to when considering a new product or acknowledging a new idea. This technique is still relevant and used today. We’ll explore how the AIDA method applies to beverage marketing campaigns in subsequent paragraphs.

Anheuser-Busch (AB) comes to mind regarding gaining an audience’s attention.  The well-known “Budweiser Frogs” commercial from the 1995 Super Bowl is one of the more memorable ads, along with 1999’s “Wassup”.  But Anheuser-Busch’s marketing does not rely on just creative gimmicks for their marketing strategy.  Their iconic Clydesdales are a branding powerhouse for the company, giving them some of their most heartwarming and touching ads.

The ads from Anheuser-Busch also pique interest.  AB has a history of creating multi-arcing storylines in their ads in order to draw  the viewer in.  This storyline makes the consumer respond, “Oh, yeah!  That is the beer that had that amazing commercial during (the event).” 

When it comes to desire, one immediately thinks sexually charged imagery.  This can range from a sultry, low voice from the characters in the ad to suggestive marketing.  Creating the desire for something that one does not have is the biggest driver in marketing.  Consider Oregon’s Naked Winery.  With suggestive wine names such as “Penetration”, “Vixen”, “Dominatrix”, and “Foreplay”, they take the concept of desire and maximize its impact. Although some are less suggestive and more explicit.

Action is more of a mental state.  It could be considered the cumulative effect of the other three processes.  This is when the consumer starts to wonder: “What will I have to do to get it?” This is in some arenas called fear of missing out or FOFMO and it elicits great drama which plays out in an orgy of bonfires every black friday when people push and shove to get whatever toy we were told is the must have. Every year we look at action in a concerning light in the guise of black friday. We look at the results of fear of missing out or FOMO as people push and shove to get the latest toy or must have dealt in an apocalyptic orgy of self-indulgence solely created by marketers to keep consumers wanting more.

Advertising Technology & Innovation 

Technology changes the landscape of marketing on a monthly basis.  To keep up, marketing professionals are quickly becoming technophiles.  From the invention of the television, the computer, the internet, and social media, marketers have had to adapt to new platforms thanks to the consumer’s rapid adaptation and dependence on new technology.


The dawn of radio in the early twentieth century significantly broadened the speed and reach of marketing campaigns. Prior to radio advertisements, marketers had had limited mediums such as print and/or word of mouth marketing.  Bringing printed words to life with a voice meant that advertisers could display their excitement for a product beyond the page. The invention of the electronic television in 1927 dawned a new era in marketing, even though the first television advertising campaigns would not be seen for another 14 years.  On July 1st, 1941, the first television advertisement aired.  This advertisement  was for the luxury watchmaker Bulova, who spent $9 on advertisement (adjusted for inflation, that $9 is worth $157 in 2020).  It was a mere ten seconds long and aired in 4,000 households in New York City.

Television allowed companies to appeal to consumers in a new way.  Not only were they able to use moving pictures as they had since the 1930’s in the cinemas, they were able to reach consumers in their own home.  Television advertising grew tremendously over the following decades.  Today, Television advertising is a multi-billion-dollar business.  With large televised sporting events like the Super Bowl and the Daytona 500, alcohol marketing has become a large proportion of a company’s budgets.  Business Insider reported that in the first quarter of 2016, alcohol manufacturers spent $421 million on advertising.  Of that $421 million, 90% was spent on television spots.

Why is this important in beverage marketing?  Television is still the largest medium of advertising, with a captive audience, despite the advances to social media and digital marketing. Food for thought for producers in the future. 

Social media 

Social media is a catalyst in marketing.  In times of uncertainty, a well-developed social media marketing plan can mean the difference between a successful campaign and a dud.  It also sends a message to a whole new class of consumers…millennials and Gen-Z, also known as the “Zoomers”.

Millenials and Zoomers are a unique set of consumers to market to.  They don’t necessarily follow the societal norms for other generations when it comes to watching television and reading newspapers.  Millennials and Gen-Z are a distinct group of individuals who heavily rely on social media and digital marketing for not only their purchasing decisions, but their research into the product as well.

Wine marketing is about innovation.  From the times of prohibition When alcohol purveyors were finding creative solutions to get their product to people with the virtual approach that was taken during the SARS-COVID-19 outbreak in late 2019 and into 2020, the alcohol industry has been finding ways to continue their futures.

How much time should wineries spend on social media and how is ROI tracked? How do they know which platforms to use? These are questions for another paper or webinar perhaps. 

The wine industry has been finding ways to set themselves apart since the early days of the Gallo brothers. Joining forces with celebrities or celebrities opening their own wineries is one way that the wine industry has stayed relevant to consumer needs even creating it when needed. 

For the next few months each post will describe current marketing strategies, outline faults and threats and identify opportunities utilizing the best idea for the future. 

End of part one.

The Craft Beer Industry Expanded During COVID – Albeit at a Decelerated Rate

In mid-May, Julia Herz, the Craft Beer Program Director at the Brewers Association, predicted that the number of craft breweries would continue to increase even with the COVID lockdowns and economic uncertainty.  A couple months later, the Brewers Association have released the first half of 2020 data and it looks like her prediction was on target. According to Bart Watson, Chief Economist at the Brewers Association in the 2020 Midyear Survey Shows Challenges for Craft Brewers (behind firewall):

As of June 30, the Brewers Association database showed 8,217 active craft breweries, up from 7,480 during a comparable time frame last year. Adding in large and other non-craft brewers brought the U.S. total to 8,341. Although considerable growth, that is a deceleration from mid-year 2019, where the number had increased by more than 1,000 during a similar time frame. 

Looking at our database, the decrease is largely attributable to a slowdown in openings, more so than a sharp increase in closings. While it remains possible that closings will accelerate as 2020 continues, through the end of June, our database only shows 112 closings. That’s only 4% higher than the number we had found during the same time period last year. In contrast, we have only counted 301 openings, a number that is about 20% lower than the opening count through the first 6 months of 2019 (found by this point last year).

Photo courtesy of the Brewers Association

Regarding openings, we are actually surprised that the drop was only 20% lower — based on the lockdowns that we had experienced over the Spring.  Yet in our interview below Ms. Herz stressed that breweries in planning actually had a hidden advantage in that they planned for an opening during a stressful economic climate. These breweries could not afford to rush their opening without proper due diligence.  And based on monthly data inferred from the New Brewer Magazine, over 60% of the 301 new openings occurred after March 1 — right before the national lockdown.

As for closures, only a 4% increase shows the resilience and flexibility of small independent craft brewers.  And according to the same monthly data, only 40% of the closures occurred after March 1 as brewers have modified business models to cope with the pandemic. Furthermore, the overall number of closures was affected by the retrenchment among larger craft brewery chains.  Gordon Biersch,  Rock Bottom, Granite City, and RAM closed a combined 18 brewpubs in the first half of 2020, representing 16% of all closures. Removing this number from the overall closures would actually show a 10% decline in the overall number of closures.

Mr. Watson alludes above that closures may accelerate in the second half of 2020,  and the statistics referenced here relies on the Brewers Association obtaining valid non-member data.  However, there is optimism that the craft beer industry will not only survive the pandemic but continue to grow. In the same article, Mr. Watson mentions the optimism expressed by smaller brewers – where they predict 12% growth in the second half. In six months we will discover the accuracy of this prediction or are smaller brewers “simply wearing rose-colored glasses”.