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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Marketing is Marketing

Yes, I hate to break it to you, but it's true: marketing is marketing, regardless of who puts it out.  As fans and devotees to a movement that is still very much underground, the breweries we follow and the beer bloggers we read have asked us to segment this information and treat marketing differently.  As if overnight it has changed into something more lofty than sales, and that those breweries that are still doing things "the old way" have some how grown horns and reverted to human sacrifice to hit their Q3 goals.  "Your" beer is not better than "their" beer.  Because your beer has the IBU's listed on the side of the corked bottle does not tower over the other beers simply because they choose a nicer label or a high-priced marketing firm.

I'm drinking this right now, and I am proud of it. 

The age of the craft beer getting by simply on the "poor me" method of marketing is over.  Consumers have taken craft beer to the next level and it's letting us down.  There is no more room for bullying - especially since we have accused the "Big Beer" guys of the same thing.  Telling it's customers that craft beer isn't good, that it's not as consistant.  By brewers saying their beer is superior to another simply because they make less of it is ... kind if insane.  To question someones courage or manhood because they drink yellow beer is, to be honest, scary.  Nevermind the fact there are many styles of beer that are "yellow", that attitude is becoming too aggressive for my tastes.  I don't want to be a part of a movement that says "Drink this not that".  Do you?  Do you really, REALLY care that much about what I drink?

If we are to ever get the mainstream attention we deserve, we are going to have to accept the fact that Budweiser is the best-selling beer in the world.  Does that make it less drinkable, or less valid as a consumer good?  No!  It's a fine beer and one that is extremely hard to make.  Any asshole can whip out a pale ale (and many craft pales taste like it, too), but I can count on both hands the number of breweries that can be as consistant as a Bud or Coors.

We should admire the big beers and learn from them.  The more we alienate them, the more we do the same to those who are loyal brand suporters and will not cross over to craft beer.  Ask your local brewer if he can afford to drive folks away.   But I bet I know the answer.

This post written under the influence of Crass.

6 comments:

  1. Hello hero, hero hello. Should we admire the big brewers for their ability to make a consistently great example of a lousy product? Who out there doesn't accept that M, B, &C do what they do very, very well? Toyota makes a very reliable mid-sized sedan. Nobody denies that. But who gets excited about Bud Light and the Camry? The big breweries have turned beer into a commodity.

    Like you say, craft beer isn't inherently better than the fizzy yellow stuff just because less of it is made. For the most part, it's better because it's better. Yes, there is bad craft beer out there. I wish more good beer drinkers would call them on it - too many small breweries are making shit beer and getting a pass from the consumer just because they're small, they're stickin' it to the man, or something like that.

    Craft breweries need good marketing, but just as importantly they need to make good beer. And they need to stop worrying about beating out the big breweries. That will come with time - decades. There is an awakening of taste buds going on in this country right now. People are finally starting to think about what they eat and drink. Eventually - 20 years from now - the beer selection of the 1970-80s will be a notion as unfathomable as prohibition. People are turning away from TV dinners and Wonderbread, and at the same time they're turning away from MBC. It's happening slowly, but it's gaining momentum. As craft beer goes mainstream, craft breweries will be forced to make good beer to survive, because Joe Average won't care that the beer he's drinking comes from a mom & pop brewery. If it sucks, he won't buy it again.

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    1. But it's lousy to YOU, and that's my point. Simply because you and I would rather have a Pale ale than a CAP does not make that CAP lousy. It's the #1 selling style in the WORLD, so clearly it has a following. Why can't the two exist together? Why is one better than the other?

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    2. I'm saying that they can exist together, that craft beer needs to stop worrying about going after those guys. They're always going to be there. But they won't always have the stranglehold they have now. They got as big as they did through commoditization, brutal business practices, and marketing that has nothing to do with the product. People are paying more attention to what they consume now than they did 25 years ago. That alone bolsters craft beer's sales. The impact of the sweedish bikini team and spudz mackenzie on beer sales is waning. It will always work on a majority, but it will be a smaller majority as we move forward.

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  2. Couldn't agree more JP. I consistently drink big beer when golfing or when the situation arise and the locals always look at me and make a comment about it, not because I have told them the beer they drinks sucks(ok, maybe a couple times as a defense mechanism while drunk or too be funny)but because craft beer has slowly developed a snobbish aura to it nationally. That needs to change or those people will remain on the sidelines.

    BTW, PBR is good but Schlitz is the shit!! Seriously, much better, give it a go.

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  3. For a good friend's 21st Birthday, we took a "pilgrimage" to the Spoetzel Brewery, which is where they make Shiner Bock. At the time, we both thought Shiner was absolutely tits, that nobody was really making beer like it (and in Texas, nobody really was) and that it was totally original. Imagine my surprise when people started referring to them as "the big guy" and lumping them in with BMC. Really? Shiner is owned by Gambrinus, but they really make a great, consistent Vienna lager that was my first step into craft beer. "This is a thing?" I asked, when I went to my first real beer bar, and I immediately ordered a Kostrizer because they were in the same category as my favorite beer.

    It's just silly, and in a lot of cases you just sound stupid for lecturing the "piss-water" drinkers on what good beer is. It took me a long time to figure out how dumb it sounds to talk shit about a beer just because of who makes it. I know you hate hearing this, but I'm a total brewing geek in general. I'd tour a BMC facility just to see how they came out with such a clean, consistent product, and I think they deserve a modicum of respect for their techniques, their marketing campaigns non-withstanding.

    Miller High Life truly is the champagne of beers, and I will admit to being a little excited when Mickey's put out the tiny sixers of malt liqour. Both are great beers and have their place: drinking on hot days with my ghetto-ass friends.

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