Thursday, November 3, 2011

Big things brewing at MillerCoors

If I'm reading this clip from Ad Age right, MillerCoors may be about to ruin the best thing it has in its portfolio.

Mr. Long (Tom Long, CEO) said MillerCoors intends to make its craft business (Leinenkugel's, Blue Moon, etc.) "much, much bigger," noting that it needs to "transform to meet those consumers needs" of "these fuller, bigger-tasting beers."

MC's craft beer portfolio works precisely because it isn't big. It's seen as different, interesting and special. Limited advertising means people "discover" the beer and can make it their own.

I can understand their desire to grow the most profitable part of their business while watching their flagship brand fall by nearly 15% last quarter, but they need to be careful here. The brand graveyard is full of regional and niche beers that have attempted to become national players.

Anybody remember Schaefer or Stroh's?

Sure it can be done. But it will take real marketing savvy and a deft hand, neither of which have been evident in any form of Miller or Coors marketing for the past 20 years.

If I were a member of the Leinenkugel family, I'd be worried about my legacy.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

When the going gets tough

Yesterday, I was interviewed about how food businesses can find success in a tough economy. Here are some of the highlights of my advice. Remember what you're paying for it, so take it for what it's worth.
  1. Stop trying to be all things to all people. Find the 20% of your market that loves you and do everything you can to make them love you more.
  2. Connect your products and brand to something that's trendworthy and newsworthy
  3. For every trend there's a counter-trend. Head in the opposite direction of the market leaders and you'll find a lot less competition.
  4. Make sure people know the story behind your product.
  5. Just as in society, the middle class is vanishing from the shelf -- if you're not the least expensive or incredibly special, I wish you luck. You're going to need it.
It's a tough time for business right now. But no one ever got through tough times by laying low. That doesn't mean you have to buy TV commercials, distribute coupons, or slash prices.

There are more ways to reach consumers and distribute products than ever before, but they require work rather than money. We're in a 'sweat equity' economy and those marketers who are willing to roll up their sleeves and work social media, work events, work mobile, work public relations will earn their way to the top as long as they have the right position.