Tuesday, May 1, 2012

In Pour Taste?

The beer industry has a problem.  Sales for traditional names like Budweiser, Miller and their half-calorie siblings have been flat for a few years now - with brewers citing everything from the poor economy and unfavorable weather as reasons for their struggles.  Unable to fix such circumstances, brewers seem to be willing to try anything.

Anheuser-Busch has tried the line extensions strategy.  Bud Light an extension of Budweiser, now comes in lime, wheat and platinum varieties.  Budweiser also boasts a "select" variety which also has its their own extensions.

MillerCoors has tried to rally from its sales slump by innovating the package.  The Coors Light bottle has a label which green lights its drinker with a "Super Cold" signal.  They've also tried aluminum bottles, while over at Miller, they've introduced a "home draft" system, a "vortex" bottle and its latest creation, the "punch top can."

The new Miller punch top can innovation is supposedly preferable because "it's more like drinking from a pilsner glass," according to Amy Breeze, the Director of Innovation and Activation at Miller Lite.  The punch top can includes a special tab on the top of the can where the drinker can puncture a hole for air to flow through and give the drinker a better pour into their mouth.  If your wondering if you'll need a church key, the ads for the punch top can suggest that you won't - a drum stick will do fine supposedly.

Immediately, people wondered if Miller was taking innovation too far back to the frat house.  Is Miller promoting a more perfect device for the over-consumption of brewskies via shotgun?

Perhaps. But do we really think that the binge drinker residing in or partying in said frat house needs help in these social sciences.  Thus, I truly question to what degree the Miller Lite punch top can will change what is already happening and the things people will do.

Despite all of it's evils, the consumption of alcoholic beverages is a widely accepted part of American culture.  It's celebrated ritual of nearly every adult attended celebration and then some.  Does marketing have a significant role in creating and shaping cultures?  Absolutely.

Yet, marketing doesn't dictate to society as much as it suggests things.  Society should not act helpless to the will of marketing executives, it's not.  Perhaps the flat sales in the beer industry is evidence of this. 

In fact, society should be forcing the beer industry to discuss problems of conscience as well as problems of sales. Despite full comprehension that its products are regularly misused and the cause of many significant burdens to society; drunken driving, addiction and obesity among others, American breweries leave it in the consumers hands when they know that less 100 percent of them will be able to handle it.

What is their duty to society once their party stops?

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