Saturday, June 1, 2013

Guinness Guesses That You'll Like Black Lager

I've always get annoyed when marketers use line extensions as a strategy to grow a brand.

The logic for doing so might seem straightforward; if customers enjoy our brand for product A, then they'll definitely enjoy our brand for product B.  However, what often happens is that product B will cannibalize sales of product A.  Furthermore, it will often repositioning product A in the mind of the consumer in terms a weakness.

For instance: Coca-Cola was always a great tasting drink.  But after introducing Diet Coke, over time Coca-Cola is repositioned as a drink with too many calories.    

The beer industry employs this strategy a lot; there is always a new flavor or variety being advertised. One of the latest is from Guinness; the popular Irish brand is calling their latest creation Guinness Black Lager.

How is this brew different from the original?  According to the ads, Black Lager is made with a roasted dark barley.  But according to Wikipedia, so is the original.  The pitchman, Jack Huston of Boardwalk Empire fame, also claims that it's easy to drink.  That's the clue that product B repositioning product A.  Guinness has never known as a beer that's easy to drink.  I used to joke with friends that it was like drinking a loaf of bread.  Its strength was its unique flavor, not its drinkability.

In this second spot for Guinness Black Lager, they keep their focus on the beer's color as its signature attribute.  But after making useless comparisons to iced coffee and Coca-Cola, which is like comparing apples to oranges to bananas, they lazily ask, why not beer?

Don't ask why not; tell consumers why. Hoping consumers invent reasons to drink the stuff on their own isn't a viable long-term strategy.

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