You Can’t Rely on Gimmick Branding

Differentiation. It’s one of the keys to good branding. Branding and marketing professionals have been beating that drum since the dawn of communication. But being “Different” in simple separation from the competition isn’t enough. Differentiation needs to add value. Otherwise what good does it do for the consumer?

Take for instance the recent “change” MillerCoors Brewing has made to their packaging. We’ve all seen the “Vortex Bottles” and the new big-mouth aluminum bottles. Sure that’s different, but the product is the same, watered down, tasteless swill. There hasn’t been any value proposition or improvement in the actual product. So unless the marketers and MillerCoors Brewing think their consumers are completely ignorant, belly-scratching mouth-breathers, there won’t be a return on the repackaging investment. Even msnMoney has called this effort for more brand awareness a “gimmick.”

“and MillerCoors fight it out. They are boosting their advertising budgets and even trying gimmicks like a “Vortex Bottle” that aerates the beer as it pours.”

Does their target audience really care about aeration of their beer? I could put even money that their target audience doesn’t even aerate their lawns!

Gimmicks don’t work.

To give you a little insight on how the beer market has changed, take a look at another article from msnMoney. In brief, it says that while beer sales over the past year have plummeted by 10% the “Craft Beer” market (think Sam Adams) has seen an uptick of 2.2%.

Why?

Beers like those that Sam Adams brews offer taste, quality and variety focused on the micro-brew-lovers palate not a feeble innovation to the “dump-it-down-your-throat faster” need… Their marketing sticks to their quality brewing process and attention to the needs of their discerning customers. No gimmicks… just great brand marketing.

It comes down to adding a value proposition to their differentiation. Sure, MillerCoors brews wheat beer and has special “flavors” like Miller Chill, but it hasn’t improved overall sales or brand awareness. In this writer’s opinion, it’s just watered down (further) their brand and left a bad taste in consumers mouths (pun intended).

So, Pull up a bar stool and join the conversation. What can commodity beers like the MillerCoors products and the Anheuser-Busch line do to compete with the Sam Adams and “Craft Beer” makers? We’d love to hear what you have to say. Maybe MillerCoors is listening in?

What say you?

Until next time…

Keep Cooking (great value branding)!
Andrew B. Clark
The Brand Chef

*This post was originally seen on the CreateWOWMarketing blog…

3 Comments
  1. Andrew, thanks for the post! Here is my perspective.

    What can Coors do to compete with Sam Adams? Nothing. It’s like saying how can Chevy compete with Ferrari. I don’t believe Coors is even in the same league, nor does it want to be.

    Coors is aimed at an audience who just wants a beer, and doesn’t care as much about flavor. This audience tends to respond to changes in packaging design. On the outside it appears as though the product has been enhanced, when in reality, it is the same nasty product.

    Recently Kimberly-Clark’s Kotex used the new U gimmick*. New package design (it’s nifty), a “clicking” gimmick and bright colors were all it took to increase sales by double digits † not only in the first quarter, but the second as well.√ (from anonymous sources, I have heard the actual function of these is just awful!)

    Obviously, gimmicks can START consumer spending habits, but it is up to the brand at that point to deliver. If they cannot, this “gimmick” will do nothing but hurt them long term.

    Back to Coors. How are they competing with Sam Adams? Coors Brewing Company is competing with their other brands including Blue Moon, Killians, etc.

    Gimmicks in and of themselves can’t sustain business, but they CAN increase awareness and bring in new eyeballs. To meet the consumer’s expectation (or exceed it) will keep the business.

    * http://investor.kimberly-clark.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=452171

    http://investor.kimberly-clark.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=462185

    http://investor.kimberly-clark.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=491216

  2. Coors doesn’t compete with Sam Adams, it doesn’t want to, nor could it if it did. As for Gimmicks, the more low-brow the brand the more gullible its consumers and therefore the more likely they are to be taken in by gimmicks. A Sam Adams drinker would sooner abandon the brand than drink it out of a gimmick container.