How challenger beer, wine and spirits brands can use Cinco de Mayo to compete with the big brands
Cinco de Mayo is one of America’s favorite holidays for celebrating all things alcohol. Creative social and experiential campaigns can level the playing field between upstart challenger brands and the much larger established brands in the space, especially during unique holidays like Cinco de Mayo. With mainstay brand Corona suffering during the unfortunately-named COVID-19 outbreak, there’s never been a better time for some lighthearted underdog marketing.
Cazadores Tequila is an expert at using the Mexican holiday calendar to create expanded campaign and experiential opportunities. By starting summer on Cinco de Mayo, the brand creates a “summer mindset” (aka margarita time!) over a month earlier than the traditional start of the season. “This calendar frames our celebrations and we like to say you get an extra 36 days of summer when you celebrate it the Mexican way,” says Paul McDonnell, brand director at Cazadores.
State of the industry
The beer, wine and spirits industry is evolving. There is a consumer trend toward premiumization in spirits and a shift toward higher-quality beers, which has stimulated growth among craft brewers. Eugene Kashper, owner of Pabst Brewing Company, believes the beer category will continue to shift away from mainstream lagers and be dominated by super-premium, craft, cider, flavored malt beverages and import beers — categories that will make up 70 percent of sales by 2025 by his projections.
For years, Goliaths such as Anheuser-Busch InBev, Constellation Brands, and Brown-Forman have led the industry leveraging their massive advertising budgets. But, with consumer palettes continuing to change, there’s now an opportunity for challenger beer, wine, and spirits brands to take market share.
Get creative, not expensive
To compete with the industry giants, challenger brands must outthink rather than outspend them. The success of a challenger brand’s marketing is about creating passion through advocacy and activation, not ad spend.
Beer, wine, and spirits brands are increasingly turning to experiential marketing to make a deeper connection with consumers. Once an afterthought to traditional advertising, experiences are now a cornerstone of many marketing plans. Anheuser-Busch knows the value of experiences and works with The Pineapple Agency year-round to create unique branded experiences that keep the mainstream beverage brand relevant in traditionally craft-leaning demographics.
In an increasingly digital world, experiential activations provide consumers a full sensory experience including the opportunity to taste and play with brands — in person. Live, face-to-face, events help brands gain visibility, entertain and educate. These activations create an emotional connection to a brand that cannot be duplicated with mass advertising.
Experiences allow consumers to develop a personal connection with their favorite beer, wine and spirits brands. They take to social media as an outlet to express their knowledge and passion. This drives word-of-mouth, which Millennials rank as the number one influencer in their purchasing decisions about packaged goods.
84% of consumers say that they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends about products and services – which makes these recommendations the highest ranked source for trustworthiness according to Nielsen.
With the right experiential strategy and execution, brands of all sizes can use events to develop brand advocates and leverage social media for unprecedented reach. Experiential is the fire and social media is the fuel that will allow challenger brands to unseat the incumbents. All it takes is one unique experience and a Retweet from the right person to take your brand viral, whether it’s on Cinco de Mayo or any given Sunday.
Where should challenger brands start? With the right experiential strategy and execution, brands of all sizes can use events to develop brand advocates and leverage social media for unprecedented reach. Experiential is the fire and social media is the fuel that will allow challenger brands to unseat the incumbents. All it takes is one unique experience and a Retweet from the right person to take your brand viral, whether it’s on Cinco de Mayo or any given Sunday.