Over the last decade big brands across the grocery sector have been challenged by smaller players with more exciting brand personalities – disruptor brands such as Glorious, Innocent and Unearthed are just a few examples. Few categories have been affected by this trend as acutely as beer, owing to the explosion of the craft scene. Heineken’s ‘A ’Dam Fresh Beer’ campaign was devised in response to the growing popularity of local brews and it seems to have been a success. But once the novelty has worn off can this beer behemoth convincingly play the local beer expert card?
Amsterdam connection unlikely to support a mass campaign
The campaign’s theme of welcoming visitors to Amsterdam and inspiring them to make the most of the city via personalised recommendations plotted on a bespoke map plays to both #Immersion and #Freedom. But whilst the brand has genuine Amsterdam roots it is not truly synonymous with the city in the way that Guinness is linked with Dublin. Heineken has a global feel and without a deep connection to a place it’s unlikely that the brand could use location as the central pillar for a wider campaign.
Lack of uniqueness restricts desire to engage
Using data and online behaviour to craft a personalised experience and prompt a conversation between brand and consumer builds #Belonging in a Millennial-friendly way. But Heineken’s lack of specialness limits the activity’s traction – the beer’s ubiquity and generic taste mean that there’s unlikely to be an intense fervour to engage. This scenario is mirrored in John Smith’s ‘Ordinary Only by Name’ campaign which involves the middle-of-the-road brewer championing extraordinary pubs.
Rivals are finding better ways to differentiate
Of course, it’s easy for craft brewers to be authentic and disruptive. Tapping into #Immersion is a popular route - Goose Island linking-up with Thinking Drinkers for comedy nights; Meantime’s smart mirrors in pub gardens maximising sunshine; and Beavertown running a beer extravaganza. Meanwhile, crowdfunded Brewdog continues to play to #Belonging – offering free beer for participating in their alternative election poll.
But what are the other big boys doing to build emotional connection?
San Miguel is building an identity beyond ‘Spanishness’ via its ‘Alternative Rich-list’ event – talks from ‘life rich’ individuals who inspire adventure playing to #Freedom, beer and food tasting alongside a VR experience channels #Immersion.
Fullers tapping in to #Belonging and #Immersion in a uniquely authentic way by handing over the running of one of their pubs to a lucky dad on Father’s Day.
Heineken can’t beat craft brewers on location, instead it needs to find other ways to engage beer fans on an emotional level to protect market share.
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