Amusing Black Crown article.

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by MammaGoose, Feb 22, 2013.

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  1. mdvatab

    mdvatab Zealot (574) Apr 5, 2006 Indiana

    I think you're spot-on with what they're trying to do. They're competing against vodka and other spirits companies even moreso than craft beer brewers when it comes to their target consumer. The "cool" appearance of the packaging and commercials take priority over even the product itself. (Thus the room full of black-clothed DBs in the Black Crown Super Bowl commercial.) You're not buying a beer, you're buying an image...

    Same with Beck's Sapphire. Cool black bottle, but I'll take a Prima Pils over Sapphire any day of the week.
  2. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    That is SOP. They throw 10 new marketing concepts, I mean beers, out into the wild each year, pump them with ad dollars, and cancel 9 of them for not selling enough.
  3. Blueribbon666

    Blueribbon666 Zealot (596) Jul 4, 2008 Ohio

    Budweiser can sure as hell try if they like however how many people care to remember say Cadillac's dopey attempts to be anything other then a luxury line...Cadillac Cimarron anyone?? And personally any of the last 15 yrs of their cars...they may have substance, but they are a zilch for style. Nice RoboDeville:rolling_eyes:
  4. Blueribbon666

    Blueribbon666 Zealot (596) Jul 4, 2008 Ohio

    Sounds to me like the Fox of the beer world:wink:
  5. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    The problem is that WE (and not just us here, but craft drinkers in general) arent brand loyal. Marketing creates brand loyalty.

    They dont want to sell us good beer, they want to sell us large volumes of beer.
  6. theHoff77

    theHoff77 Initiate (0) Aug 1, 2012 Minnesota

    I think the Guinness Black Lager commercial might be dumber than the Black Crown one. Basically both have the same direction, but the fact Guinness promotes something as useless as the color tasting better is just beyond dumb. The actor in the commercials also makes me want to kick in my TV screen.
    JuliusCaesar likes this.
  7. Cenosillicaphobe

    Cenosillicaphobe Initiate (0) Jul 24, 2011 Maine

    I think that the marketing people are well aware that their target market is essentially retarded...and they throw stupid crap like that into their advertising as some sort of inside joke...Coors Light is the "coldest tasting" beer...riiiiiiight...
  8. Cenosillicaphobe

    Cenosillicaphobe Initiate (0) Jul 24, 2011 Maine

    My cousin is a PA...and I guess he's already shooting Budweiser's Super Bowl commercial for next year...nothing but jingling car keys shot from crib view.
  9. BostonPhilly

    BostonPhilly Initiate (0) Apr 11, 2012 Massachusetts

    I grabbed two of these the other night because they were $2.50 each and I heard all this "hype" about it. Maybe he should have just put the glitter IN the beer, that would have made it at least somewhat interesting. Same old BUDWEISER TASTE, different label.
  10. brkstoutfiend

    brkstoutfiend Initiate (0) Feb 5, 2010 Michigan

    He's really good in Boardwalk Empire though.
  11. JoeBloe

    JoeBloe Zealot (526) Nov 16, 2007 New York

    I worked on the Black Lager commercial -(yeah, creepy kind of campaign - the Boardwalk Empire guy comes across a a 'stalker' type, and oh! the beautiful people) - I hadn't tried it before and went into the job thinking I'd finally be working with a beer I would drink, instead of the usual BMC stuff we help advertise - I felt the let-down on the first sip, and after 1 bottle realized it was a full-fledged marketing gimmick and nothing more - I wanted to like it but it just didn't taste good - we started the job with 40 cases of the stuff and used about 10 for the actual shoot -the producer was really keen on giving the rest to the cast and crew (which was nice of him) - but...'you couldn't give the stuff away' - 2 dozen cases went back to the company - that kinda says it.
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  12. Stugotzo

    Stugotzo Initiate (0) Jun 13, 2012 Florida

    One of the more entertaining reads I've digested in quite some time. :grinning:

    Note to Bud: If you're going to be all douchey with a Mission Impossible style briefcase, at least send the dude(s) a leather satchel instead, so it can be of some use beyond hiding the (gasp) empty bottles of Budweiser, so even the garbagemen don't see the swill you've been drinking.
  13. BigBarley

    BigBarley Disciple (373) Aug 5, 2011 Texas

    No kidding, the numerous references to rednecks irritated me. Believe it or not, you can be a hard-working southerner with 'down home' values and still be of discerning taste and maintain a modicum of eloquence (shit, I do it daily), so I feel like this writers elitist approach took away from her credibility.

    On the other hand, Budweiser products should only be sold in counties where the tap water is undrinkable.
    beergurujr and ShameAndFailure like this.
  14. Stugotzo

    Stugotzo Initiate (0) Jun 13, 2012 Florida

    "Jim" is a her? :grimacing:
  15. BigBarley

    BigBarley Disciple (373) Aug 5, 2011 Texas

    Damn... I knew there was something off about that post.

    Clearly, I've had too much BLACK CROWN this morning.
  16. HeGarcon

    HeGarcon Initiate (0) Feb 25, 2013

    I *may or may not* be the person responsible for Black Crowd. Not 100% sure about this, and I doubt anyone at ABI would confirm this, but here goes the story:

    A few years ago, I was recruited out of school to be in ABInBev's Global Management Trainee program. Essentially, the heads of the HR department and a few other execs go around college campuses in countries like the US, Canada, Brazil, China etc. and try to hire the "best" soon-to-be grads away from other multinationals like P&G, McKinsey and Accenture. Went through about 7 rounds of interviews and miraculously got hired out of about 2000 applicants from my country. The last group interview was interesting. 6 of us college seniors were in St Louis getting stared down by a few people on this org chart ( Somehow made it through that hour without crapping my pants and got an offer a few weeks later.

    Flash forward 8 months and I was back in Saint Louis with the other 100 or so Trainees in the class of 2011 for a week-long retreat/training session/meet and greet with upper management. In terms of accommodations we were really well taken care of, on par with any other Fortune 500-type employee travel perks. Our hotel was right next to the Cardinals ballpark and had a really nice gym. Since our workday started pretty early, I got up at 5AM on the second day there to get a workout in. There were only one other person in the gym on that particular morning - Carlos Brito, our CEO. We chatted for about twenty minutes while riding stationary bikes. He was great to talk to, but the whole scene kind of made me realize that's not the path I'd like to walk down, but I digress.

    The most intense part of the week was a presentation that we had to make to the VP in charge of New Products and Innovation. We were split into multi-national, cross disciplinary teams and asked to tackle one of the three problems:

    1) How to get more women to drink beer
    2) How to compete against craft brewers
    or 3) How to make the beer production process more sustainable and environmentally-friendly

    Since I studied business in college, I didn't have a clue about #3. The second topic I considered pointless (as you guys here would probably agree). So my team, which was mostly consisted of people not so fluent in English, let me pick topic #1.

    After a couple of days of brainstorming and prototyping, we came up with some insights to guide our thinking
    1) Typical chick lagers (think Bud Light Lime, Coors Light Iced Tea and any of the fruity Michelob lights) are fad products and not viable options to get more female drinkers aboard
    2) Girls don't drink beer with meals because most of their moms don't drink beer with meals
    3) There's a gap between what girls say they want (light, fruity brew that they can sip slowly) and what girls actually drink (in the case of college-aged girls at keg parties, pretty much whatever, as long as it gets them drunk)
    4) The biggest obstacle for girls ordering beers in bars and nightclubs: the bathroom line. You really don't want to spend half your night waiting to pee because it takes you 4 beers to get a buzz as opposed to half a dozen shooters.

    The solution was therefore clear: instead of going light and fruity, we need to go 180 degrees in the opposite direction. I'm talking about a malt liquor. Malt liquors aren't overly bitter, and the ABV is just about right - you won't need to shotgun more than a couple to get pretty tipsy. Another bonus: it could be priced the same as Heineken and younger people will buy it because it gets them drunk quicker for the same amount of cash. That's great for revenues AND for profit margins, since bringing imports over cost an arm and a leg, rather than brewing some strong beer using existing equipements and ingredients.

    We ended up presenting our new product as a bad-ass malt liquor/beer that will be around 9% ABV and packaged in a slick black bottle with some glitter or other sort of shiny crap on it. I got to channel Steve Jobs and do the 10 minute pitch in front of a group of about 120 people with a prototype bottle in my hand (which looked like a 5th grade arts and crafts projects gone wrong up-close, though it actually looked not bad from 50 ft away). The marketing campaign would be centered on 25-45 male drinkers with money to throw around. It was expected for women to start picking up the brand based on brand values and the ABV. The bar/club owners and ABI would be expecting to make a nice windfall as well, given the high production and sales margins.

    We ended up getting good feedback on our idea by the VP, and we went home a few days later and pretty much forgot all about it.

    That was in July 2011. Of course, Bud Light Platinum was launched about half a year later. Then this month we got Beck's Sapphire and Bud Black Crown. Whether our presentation gave the head honchos some good ideas or if it just happened to be a coincidence (I lean toward the second possibility, considering we were recent grads with next to zero industry experience, I'd tend to think that our suggestion were duly ignored), I'm disappointed about two things: 1) 6% ABV is a bit low 2) why did ABI think it was a good idea to launch three essentially identical products, just so that they can cannibalize each other?

    Anyway, I don't work at ABI anymore. Instead of getting a free case of 24 every month, I now get my beer from a homebrewer buddy. All's well that ends well....
  17. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,491) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    I really, really want to thank you for your thoughtful post. It was a fascinating read!

    Permit me to ask you a question: who do you think that AB is marketing Black Crown to?

    There were a number of BAs who posted their opinions:

    · “Black Crown is not being brewed for craft beer drinkers. It is being brewed for Budweiser drinkers.”
    · “They're not marketing to the BA crowd, the small few percent of consumers. They are marking to the middle and to the beer drinkers who shudder happen to drink Miller and or maybe Coors and such.”
    · “They're competing against vodka and other spirits companies even moreso than craft beer brewers when it comes to their target consumer.”

    I am not a business/marketing person but the first bullet doesn’t make sense to me. Does it make sense for AB to ‘cannibalize’ their own product line?

    As regards the second bullet, what about Black Crown is ‘appealing’ to Miller or Coors drinkers to compel them to switch to drinking an AB product?

    I also don’t understand why somebody who likes to drink Vodka or spirits would feel compelled to drink a beer like Black Crown; why wouldn’t they just continue to drink their spirits? If they really do want to switch to a beer, why would it be Black Crown?

    HeGarcon likes this.
  18. jbertsch

    jbertsch Meyvn (1,112) Dec 14, 2008 Massachusetts

    OMG the lipstick on the "passion" vial - LOL!!! I got a good ab workout laughing at that one.
  19. Kcman91

    Kcman91 Initiate (0) Jul 2, 2012 Connecticut

    That was indeed an amusing article. I understand where someone commented on how the reviewer seemed like a bias craft brew drinker but we all knew from the start we were going to hate on AB no matter what. The vials in the briefcase just makes me want to make fun of them even more. A very lame idea. What kind of marketing team, for beer mind you, would think this was a "cool" idea?
  20. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (212) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    Bud Light Platinum makes sense as far as the 3rd category goes, attracting spirits drinkers or potential spirit drinkers with a beer offering. Light taste, a bit of sweetness and higher alcohol. Beer stripped down to an alcohol delivery system with a somewhat sweet taste (compared to most cocktails, mixed drinks and shooters) as opposed to bitterness from hops. With Bud light you have little bitterness and little sweetness, i.e little of everything, Bud Light Platinum cranks up the sweetness parameter slightly to create a taste profile of sorts, for those not sold on Bud Light and who might want more alcohol in their drink.

    So that beer's positioning makes sense in my book. Budweiser Black Crown on the other hand doesn't take the same approach as Bud Light Platinum did, which wouldn't make much sense either since they'd simply have two Bud Light Platinums cannibalizing each others market share. Budweiser Black Crown has to be seen as a "modern" beer offering to the drinker of AALs. The emphasis is on color of the beer (darker) and taste (the maltiness and hops), wrapped up in stand out packaging. It's not the beer deconstructed type product which Bud Light Platinum offers, the offering is closer to the beer category than the spirits category (even if its specs don't approach those of a craft beer equivalent, say an amber lager).

    To me the beer's positioning makes sense as part of a multi-pronged effort to retain and build the beer business in general and their own beer business in particular. As a craft beer drinker one might look at Budweiser Black Crown and deem it too similar to Budweiser for it to be interesting, but if you view the beer as a part of the Budweiser family of brands I think the subtle difference, as opposed to a major difference, makes sense. They could have gone about this three ways, either by launching it under an entirely new brand which is difficult and risky, or launch it under a different brand within their portfolio, or launch it within the Budweiser family. Them choosing to launch it under the Budweiser name I think speaks to their intentions behind this beer, of strenghtening the Budweiser family of brands apart from Bud Light whilst simultaneously harnessing the branding power that Budweiser possesses (Budweiser may be on the skids saleswise but it's still one of the largest beer brands in the US).

    Budweiser provides them with the big brand name clout, but it also comes with expectations as far as taste goes of lightness and "easy drinking" defined by a clean adjunct lager body and low IBUs. This is evident by the explanation for the origins of the Project 12, where new beers where to be thought up, but still adhering to the core principles of the Budweiser brand:

    Clean and crisp, not heavy or nuanced. I think the desire to keep the Budweiser brand focused and clear, plus apprehension over going too far and putting off alot of the trial drinkers, combined worked towards the creation of Budweiser Black Crown. Different but not too different (by Budweiser standards), some color and taste credentials that could be built on in the advertisements that wouldn't offend a majority of the trial drinkers once they got to try the product. Any difference they percieved would be slight, but they might find the difference to be interesting and tasty nonetheless (if they like AALs and Budweiser to begin with, they are thus unlikely to dislike the taste of Budweiser Black Crown). Then there's the 6% abv which works towards positioning this high-end beer as more contemporary and "modern", given the higher abv of alot of the alcoholic beverages out there.
    mdvatab and beergurujr like this.
  21. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (212) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    As far as a a clearly defined demographic goes it's harder to say what they are aiming for. One could say "the people who used to drink Budweiser", but alot of those people drink Bud Light. I guess one could broaden that to be "people who are potential beer drinkers", i.e 21 year olds and above. People who aren't entirely sold on either Bud Light, Wine or Spirits/mixed drinks (the Bud light people can stick to Bud light as far as ABInbev is concerned, the spirits drinkers are being targeted with Bud Light Platinum).

    I guess one could call them the people in the middle, who are going to pick something to drink, and could choose to drink regular AALs but are finding the category to be boring and lackluster. Not the "light beer drinker", but the "beer drinker" (which might be a rather diffuse category of consumers these days). Budweiser Black Crown offers something new as far as commercial beer goes, backed up by advertising, that could intrigue these people enough to where they try the beer and like it and become or remain "beer drinkers". The alternative might be for them to become "craft beer drinkers", intrigued by the variety and vibrancy of the craft beer segment, which would make the mass-market, large volume business model of ABInbev alot more difficult to uphold if they were forced to engage this segment on its own terms. Budweiser Black Crown is thus a way for them to offer a product within the mass-market, mass-volume segment of the beer market with the hopes of being able to prevent the industry from "transforming" (as an internal memo apparently put it). Surrendering is not an option for them, and adapting to the small-volume brand market of the craft beer segment is not an appealing alternative for them. Doing something in the form of a mass-marketed, large volume brand such as Budweiser Black Crown allows them to do something, and stick to their business model.
  22. neophilus

    neophilus Initiate (0) Apr 4, 2009 Massachusetts

    What InBev said they did: "We told our 12 brew masters to go CRAZY and brew wild and unconventional beers that will challenge your taste buds!"

    What InBev really did: "We picked 12 styles of craft beers that are eating into our profit margins and assigned each one to a brewing facility with instructions to brew a batch of regular Budweiser that only mildly deviated from the recipe so that current Bud drinkers wouldn't be turned off but we can still pass the beer off as 'craft', then we handpicked a focus group to select the most pedestrian result so as to not scare our investors by changing our business plan."
    LMT likes this.
  23. Kikodamian

    Kikodamian Initiate (0) Feb 9, 2013 Florida

    I haven't read all the comments on this thread but I just wanted to say a few things.
    Black Crown is not Budweiser's attempt to make craft beer. It is merely a follow up of Bud Plat. Why would they have to worry about making a craft beer when they just buy out breweries that make them.
    Bud Platinum = Bud Light with a higher ABV
    Black Crown = Bud Regular with a higher ABV

    While there is a noticeable difference between any brewery's light and regular beer of any style, there is no difference between Bud Platinum vs. Bud Light or Bud Regular vs. Black Crown other than the ABV
  24. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (212) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    Being a Swede I've only ever had regular Budweiser so my impressions of the other three brands come from reading the marketing materials and the descriptions from those who have had it. I have had Coors Light however, and I've had several Danish low IBU, 6% abv adjunct lagers. Going by Coors Light I'd wager Bud Light is similarly without bitterness and without any noticable sweetness (the result of a lower original gravity and high attenuation). I'd wager though that Bud Light Platinum is sweeter than Bud Light is, since I have yet to come across a 6% adjunct lager which was as dry as an American light lager, or even a 4.2% all malt lager, or even a 5% lager. Even with a fermentation process similar to a light beer, I'd imagine that there is more sweetness present (and this is also the description of the flavor going by the marketing material and some people's impressions of the beer). But in your opinion there's no difference between Bud Light and Bud Light Platinum as far as taste goes?

    Concerning Black Crown the marketing material is rather vague as to the flavor apart from mentioning a light hop note. Whilst I've seen an IBU of 15 mentioned by various sources, which would be slightly higher than Budweiser which sits at 11 or so IBU, whether this difference is noticable or not given the very slight increase plus the caramel malts used to darken the beer slightly I couldn't say. They might be balanced out by each other to provide that crispness that they want for Budweiser. I guess it could be possible that slightly more hops are used in the late boil to get some hop notes apart from bitterness, but at a very low level (if they are impossible to pick up on).

    The 6% abv, without the high attenuation of a light beer, would to me indicate a higher sweetness in the beer than what is apparent in regular Budweiser, but not having tried Black Crown that's merely speculation on my part. But to you there's no difference between the two?
  25. gentlystewed

    gentlystewed Disciple (387) Dec 12, 2010 Georgia

    That was a funny article. I foolishly bought a 12 pack of that stuff not to long ago and kicked myself in the ass for it. Actual Budweiser is a hell of a lot better than this nonsense. I drank them all in pint glasses (the shit goes flat real quick) and tried my best to detect something flavorful, or refreshing or just something positive and couldn't for the life of me. And I'm not a beer snob--I drink a hideous amount of adjuncts all the freaking time. I'm baffled trying to figure just who they are marketing this crap to--not craft beer drinkers.
  26. gentlystewed

    gentlystewed Disciple (387) Dec 12, 2010 Georgia

  27. --Dom--

    --Dom-- Disciple (305) Dec 22, 2012 Missouri

    I say AB, you just keep doin what you're doin there guy. Keeps most of america drinking rice beer, and leaves all the delicious beer I want on the shelves for me :grinning: It's almost like AB is my craft beer wingman..... keeping everyone else occupied and unawares......
    hoppusmaxximus and gentlystewed like this.
  28. beergoot

    beergoot Poo-Bah (3,655) Oct 11, 2010 Colorado
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    ...and thanks for all the fish...
  29. mdvatab

    mdvatab Zealot (574) Apr 5, 2006 Indiana

    Have you tried these beers side by side, or do you have a reputable source saying that the only diff is ABV? I have, and I disagree that the only difference is ABV.
  30. Kikodamian

    Kikodamian Initiate (0) Feb 9, 2013 Florida

    I have not and maybe that's what I'm missing. I will have to try it that way so I can make a better assessment.
  31. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,270) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    According to official AB PR, "Black Crown" was the recipe created by their Los Angeles brewmaster for the Brewmaster Project 12, named after their LA zip code- 91406. That beer was described as:

    “Our collaboration team used caramel malt on Batch No. 91406, which gives the beer a deep amber color and a little more body,” said Sullivan, whose signature will be on the bottle. “It has a little bit more hop character than our flagship Budweiser lager, but like Budweiser it’s a very clean and refreshing beer.”
  32. HeGarcon

    HeGarcon Initiate (0) Feb 25, 2013

    Thanks for the kind words. I'll do my best to answer your questions (while I had a good look at the brewing process, I work in marketing, so you will definitely get better answers from a former brewmaster).

    1) If I had to guess, Black Crowd tries to appeal more to male spirit drinkers. The brand image reminds me a lot of Johnny Walker Black. It makes sense because every sale you can steal from spirits is considered a true "win" for the beer industry (as opposed to stealing a sale from Miller or, much worse, another Bud product). In that optic, I think ABI was too conservative with a 6% ABV. As I said, 9% would have been much more desirable (but more expensive and complicated given ABI's reliance on high gravity brewing)

    2) To appeal to women, the ABI has identified a market segment (out of 5 or 6 in all) called "sweet sippers" - essentially females who prefer drinking wine and cocktails to beer. Previous attempts to appeal to that segment included BL Lime, Coors Light Iced Tea and the various fruity Michelobs. I think they had the wrong intention (all of those brands were spectacular flops after the initial fad). Rather than sweet, you need to give them something they can sip, aka something strong (wine have 9-12% ABV, so you can drink slowly and less of it, but still get a nice buzz). Wild Blue would've fit the bill in terms of the ABI portfolio, but it was WAY too sweet and tasted gross IMO.

    3) If I were in charge of ABI (pipe dream, also I wouldn't want to be), I'd tell the Bud brand managers to forget about ever trying to compete with craft beer. With Goose Island now an ABI property there's no point. Once again, you'd just be stealing sales from yourself (cannibalization).

    4) Speaking of cannibalization, with Bud Platinum, Black Crown and Beck's Sapphire, ABI is setting itself up for a clusterf*ck. There are no other widely distributed 6% ABV beer in that premium market segment (you'd have to look at cheap beers like PBR Dry or malt liquors to find something comparable). As a brand manager I would much rather have 1 brand with 1% market share, than three brands with 0.5% each. You need to build a certain momentum before the hype wears off in Year 2. As it stands, at LEAST two out of these three brands will not live past 2014. If ABI forgot about Bud Platinum, offered Black Crown as a seasonal and stuck with Beck's Sapphire, I could see the brand thriving. People in North America don't drink Beck's as much and don't know the brand very well, so it could've been an opportunity create a nice, sustainable niche.

    5) As beer connoisseurs sometimes it's difficult to put yourself in the shoes of a casual beer drinker or a non-drinker. When most of my friends walk into a bar, they don't make distinctions between ales, lagers, adjuncts or styles. What goes through their minds is: 1) is this a beer? 2) what color is it (blonde, amber, black) 3) how strong is it? Nothing more. Selling multiple brands with very little difference is destructive because it confuses people. Confused people stick with their old habits. Not good if you want to convert a cocktail or liquor drinker.

    As a post-scriptum, I left ABI mostly because staying there would have been incongruous with my career plans. After the Brazilians took over the company, they downsized a good portion of the marketing staff and sent the work to outside agencies. When I was in St. Louis, we got to do a career planning exercise which gets us to see what positions are available given our backgrounds, and visualize how the next 20 years of our careers would pan out. There was not a single job in my career "ladder" that I whole-heartedly wanted to do (on the other hand, the girl next to me was set on becoming a brewmaster, and that was a possibility for her within 5 years).

    That realization was the nail in the coffin for my ABI career, so to speak. I am much more interested in working in the tech and sports industries (my current company, founded by an ex marketing director at ABI, makes a free app which lets customers get faster/better service in bars; since I don't have to work 11 hour days, I also get to travel the world and cover professional tennis for a news outlet), and I've been much happier since I left ABI. It's a good company, the best in the world in its category; it just wasn't the right place for me. Regarding the recent lawsuit about watered-down beer, the suit must have been filed by people who know nothing about high-gravity brewing. The $5M claim is also just a joke. These people will get their asses handed to them in court, most likely. It'll still be a big headache for ABI's PR department, though. (unless they've also outsourced that)
    Crusader likes this.
  33. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,491) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    Thanks again for taking the time to consider my query and for your conscientious response!

    So, your guess is that Black Crown is being marketed to the “male spirits drinkers”. That is a very interesting thought. It certainly would make sense for ABI to target a market such as the male spirit drinkers; this would permit them to expand their market share without cannibalizing their other products (e.g., Bud Light, Bud, Bud Platinum, etc.). I will freely admit that I am not expert in the alcohol market (or even marketing for that matter). My thought process would be: if somebody was a spirits drinker what could ABI do to entice them to switch to drinking a beer? I have not personally tasted Black Crown but based upon the PR release for this beer it seems to me that Black Crown is essentially a Budweiser with a tad more alcohol (1% more), a bit more hops, and a bit more color and body. From the perspective of a spirits drinker I would think that a Black Crown is essentially the same as a Budweiser. Is different product packaging and ‘trendy’ TV commercials really going to convince a spirits drinker to think:

    · Black Crown is ‘more’ than just a regular American Adjunct Lager (AAL)
    · I really want to drink Black Crown vs. Vodka on the rocks, Mojito, etc.

    If we consider aspects beyond Black Crown you have an interesting thought of: “Speaking of cannibalization, with Bud Platinum, Black Crown and Beck's Sapphire, ABI is setting itself up for a clusterf*ck.” It certainly does seem that with the introduction of these three products would create some internal competition. Is it ‘normal’ for the beer industry; to introduce so many similar new beers in a compressed timeframe. What is the rationale for this? Do the ABI marketing folks have the mindset to just throw shit at the wall and see what sticks?

    I appreciate the input of: “After the Brazilians took over the company, they downsized a good portion of the marketing staff and sent the work to outside agencies.” I suppose it will be interesting to see what ‘changes’ occur with the change of strategy: using outside agencies to be part (or most?) of the corporate marketing.

    I must confess that I really don’t understand what ABI is doing from an overall marketing perspective. I am not an AAL beer drinker so it could be argued that of course I don’t “get it” since I am not a consumer of those beers. I suppose my counter-argument is that the decreasing market share that ABI has in the US and the non-success of some of the new beers they introduced in the recent past is an indication that ABI is not being successful in their new product introductions. Black Crown (and Beck's Sapphire) has just been released so it is only fair to let the market play out and see if the beer consumers accept this product(s).


    P.S. I am glad to hear that your new job(s) are working out for you; best of luck!
    HeGarcon likes this.
  34. mychalg9

    mychalg9 Champion (849) Apr 8, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Great article, thanks for sharing
  35. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Meyvn (1,484) Aug 29, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    My favorite part of the spy suitcase is that none of the vials have hops. Which is fitting, given the typical flavor profile of one of AB's standard beers.

    However, I also wanted to say that I disagree with those who think this Black Crown business is not aimed at craft beer drinkers. While that might be a fairly sound theory to you or me based on common sense (i.e., does AB really think that they can fool a market segment that is literally known for it's discerning taste regarding beer and brewing methods!?), but there's something about the release that just doesn't fit with that idea: sending these special packages to people like Jim at the Beer & Whiskey Bros. blog. You don't directly expose yourself to said market segment of discerning drinkers, even as a way to give your "craft" beer more legitimacy, if you don't think that beer will hold up to the scrutiny that would follow. No, I think AB sent these packages out because they honestly thought that traditional craft beer drinkers could find a place in their hearts for the beer for situations where they may not find themselves at a place that has a sizeable craft beer list.

    I have a feeling that they had a two-pronged target market, or a "tweener" target market, depending on how you look at it. They are essentially trying to siphon off new drinkers from the fringes of the craft beer drinkers AND the BMC drinkers. Or looking at it another way, the people who are less hardcore about craft beer from the craft beer segment combined with the people who aren't opposed to having some flavor in their beer from the BMC segment. The in-between market.

    Perhaps it makes more sense to look at it through the lens of what existing, in-market beers AB expects Black Crown to compete with, which I can only surmise would be the "tweener" beers. The first that come to mind are all the Michelob Amber Bock, Ultra Lager and Honey Lager beers. But ultimately, the problem is that what we perceive as the marketing strategy is so bad--or maybe more correctly, undecipherable--that it's crapshooting to try and get into the collective heads of AB's presumably enormous marketing wing.

    For me, it really illustrates that there are two types of companies that sell beer: breweries and marketing firms. Obviously, the distinction comes from where the process of beer commerce begins. A brewery starts with the question "what can we brew?". A marketing firm starts with "what can we sell?". This campaign seems to be designed to ask the "what can we sell?" question in a way that tries to make it APPEAR like they started with the "what can we brew?" question.

    Sorry AB. Back to the drawing board.
    mdvatab likes this.
  36. RyFikes

    RyFikes Initiate (0) Jan 3, 2013 New York

    I know it's all marketing and bullshit, and that they are not directly targeting us (the craft beer drinking demographic). But I think I speak for all of us when I say that it is irritating when BMC insists on calling their beers "premium" and "complex" and are forever going on about that taste. Lies!
  37. jucifer1818

    jucifer1818 Initiate (0) May 15, 2011 Florida

    Im sharing this story.............that both sad and funny!

    I cant believe that bud is going to such lengths to prove that this is the "good" budwiser, when it is really just a deeply average brew.
    from what I've seen its an improvement over standard bud, but is far below brews like Narragansett/Batch 19 (which are American Adjunct Laggers that are actually quite good), and is probably still far below Budweiser Budvar, which is what Id rather have than black crown.
    the true bud..... :stuck_out_tongue:
  38. HeGarcon

    HeGarcon Initiate (0) Feb 25, 2013

  39. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,491) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    FWIW, I opined that ABI was pursuing the American Amber Adjunct Lager market in the below post that I made in a previous thread discussing Black Crown:

    “So, why the interest in making Budweiser Black Crown? I am of the opinion that Anheuser-Busch has looked at the expanding sales of Yuengling Lager and Shiner Bock and they thought:

    · There is a ‘sizeable’ market for American Amber Adjunct Lagers and that market is expanding.
    · Shiner Bock accounts for 75% of Spoetzl Brewery sales. So, Shiner Bock is about 300,000 barrels annually (and growing)
    · Traditional Lager is the largest beer that Yuengling brews. Assuming 75% this represents 1,875,000 barrels annually (and growing)

    A combined existing market of a little over 2 million barrels at first blush may not seem large for a company like Anheuser-Busch but consider two facts: Yuengling is presently only distributed in 14 states. Shiner Bock has a large(er) geographic market (40+ states) but it has limited penetration in many of those states. For example, Shiner is theoretically available in the State of Pennsylvania but in the Philadelphia area beer market (which is a BIG beer market) Shiner s not sold. So, what is the nationwide market for a properly distributed beer such as an American Amber Adjunct Lager? Is it double or triple the existing market of 2 million barrels? I would think that Anheuser-Busch (and MillerCoors) would be very excited to enter a 4-6 million barrel market especially considering their decreasing sales over the past few years.

    Crusader asks: “but to think that the current dynamic of shopping around will become replaced by loyalty to one or two brands (which I think is the logical conclusion of this argument) made by one brewer seems far fetched at this point.” That is a reasonable argument for a ‘true’ craft beer like a very hoppy IPA; amongst ‘true’ craft beer drinkers there seems to be a trend to try the next ‘new thing’. Well I can report that the drinkers of Yuengling Traditional Lager are very loyal drinkers. It is extremely common to be in a bar and hear somebody ask the bartender: “Give me a lager”. The bartender hands the patron a Yuengling Lager. When the patron is done his Yuengling Lager he simply states: “Give me another” or the original refrain of “Give me a lager”. The typical beer drinkers of Yuengling Lager and their loyalty to a particular beer brands is exactly the kind of beer drinker that Anheuser-Busch wants!

    Now, I don’t think that Anheuser-Busch will make serious inroads in Yuengling states like Pennsylvania, New Jersey, etc. but what about states like California and other non-Yuengling States? Even Ohio is a recent state for Yuengling since they just started distributing there a year or so ago. Could Anheuser-Busch make inroads in Ohio? I suspect so.

    Never underestimate the marketing and distribution process of Anheuser-Busch.”

  40. harperman69

    harperman69 Aspirant (234) Feb 11, 2009 Tennessee
    Beer Trader

    You should read more of Jim and Don's blog without any pretense. They seem like a couple of guys just having a lot of fun with their hobby. Great sense of hunor on these guys who will almost always respond to anything you have to add to their blog in the comments section.
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