Beer Marketing, Big Data and the Internet of Things
Australians continue to slowly fall out of love with what was once the national drink. The rot started in the 1960s and the sector has been in slow decline since then. According to ABS data beer accounted for 75% of alcohol consumed by Australians in the 1960s, today that ratio is closer to 40%. So what’s ahead for beer marketing in Australia?
The big brewers are battling on multiple fronts. Australians are now drinking less alcohol per capita (ABS), while wine, spirits and cider are taking a larger share of the market. Closer to home, strong growth in craft beers (IBISworld report this segment is growing 9.5% year on year), often from smaller independent brewers, is intensifying the competitive landscape.
As a result brewers must become more sophisticated in how they reach and engage drinkers, no longer can they rely on the next ‘big beer’ ad to do the heavy lifting. So what’s next for beer marketing?
Lion have made what some industry observers consider a bold move with their ‘Beer the Beautiful Truth’ Campaign. It’s an unconventional approach for Aussie beer, with the objective is to explode some of the common myths about beer by providing facts and figures. The high spend campaign directs consumers to Lion’s website which is awash with nutritional information and backed up by new nutritional information on labels.
Further afield, brewers are taking a more data-centric approach to better understand customer behaviours and eek out a competitive advantage. In a bid to capture objective metrics to understand how its customers interacted with different retail points of presence, Heineken implemented sensors in retail outlets to gather behavioural shopper data in real time. As a result, Heineken was able to better understand shelf interactions and as a result make better decisions about merchandising and in-store product placement.
OK, so you don’t have a Marketing budget to rival Heineken. However, that shouldn’t temper the imagination when it comes to leveraging data and analytics to better understand your market and product.
Conceived for craft beer makers, Gastrograph provides software that enables them to understand how customers perceive their product. The insights allow the brewer to tailor flavour profiles to better target high opportunity segments. The same technology also enables beer makers to detect flaws in beer batches based on real time data, enabling makers to protect their brand by detecting problems before they are released into the market.
To achieve this, Gastrograph has identified specific characteristics of beer taste that can be objectively measured. It then gathers a wide range of data including demographic, situational, environmental and reviewer data. Using a combination of machine learning and artificial intelligence models it detects variations between batches, providing real time feedback to makers.
Another innovator is Israeli start-up WeissBeerger. It’s bringing together real-time data and the internet of things to enable brewers to gain greater insights into the relationship between bars, consumers and beer at the point of consumption. The approach utilises sensor technology in the form of flow meters in combination with proprietary statistical models that connect the bar to the brewer.
The benefit to brewers is obvious, understanding drinking patters at different outlets enables the adjustment of the marketing mix at a micro level to optimise consumption & revenue. It also supports the ability to deliver interactive and time sensitive promotions to maximise revenue and minimise wastage.
The approach also supports a better drinker experience through quality control measures that monitor beer handling, keg freshness and temperature. This allows the brewer to understand how drinker experience is being maintained at each venue that beer is served.
So while it’s unlikely we’ll see a reversal of the 50+ year decline in Australia’s beer market, those brewers who apply modern marketing techniques to beer marketing to better understand and serve their customers, will not only survive but thrive.