• About Tom Dougherty

    Tom Dougherty CEO, Stealing Share

    Tom Dougherty is the President and CEO of Stealing Share, Inc., and has helped national and global brands such as Lexus, IKEA and Tide steal market share over his 25-year career.

    An often-quoted source on business and brands, he has been featured recently by the New York Times and CNN, discussing topics ranging from television to Apple to airlines.

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Coors Light’s Brand Becoming Too Chilly

As I drove home yesterday, I noticed a new billboard for Coors Light. The billboard was for their “latest” beer innovation, the “Cold Activation Window.”  Ironically, later in the evening, I witnessed a TV spot for this ground breaking new technology.

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Say what you will, but it seems like Coors Light as a brand continues to flounder. For years, Coors Light tried to own the concept of “cold” as its brand. This latest enhancement, while inline with the “cold” concept, is far from a real brand let alone a switching trigger for a Bud or Miller drinker.

If I am to believe the ads, this new window will “tell me” when the beer gets to the right temperature – as if a beer drinker needs anyone to tell them when their beer is the right temperature. I just can’t figure out who these ads are trying to target. It is hard to believe Coors conducted research that told them consumers who drink another brand of beer would switch to Coors if the bottle or box told them when the beer was the appropriate temperature.

This seems more like an execution of a gimmick to get existing Coors drinkers to “move up” to the box with the window rather than a tactic to get consumers to switch.

But, as with most of the beer market, the fault does not lie with the execution. It lies with the brand itself.

Coors, though it spends lots of money to do so, cannot own “cold.” In the US, are there any beer drinkers that don’t drink cold beer? Are they willing drink beer at room temperature? If you go into a bar and order a beer, don’t you expect that beer to be cold? (Oh, but I guess Coors has that figured out too with its “Super Cold Draft” tap.)

At least in the US, most beer is “cold.” All the beers in supermarkets are on the refrigerated shelf and are being chilled at the exact same temperature. Coors’ “Cold Activated” products were all ‘activated.” So I guess using the Coors standard, all the beers on the shelf were optimally chilled.  Which only proves the point that cold cannot be owned by a single beer brand. It is owned by all of them so it can’t be a switching trigger.

We are seeing more and more of these gimmicks in beer marketing and it only further illustrates the lack of brand across the industry. Miller has the “swirl’ bottle and even Sam Adams has created a glass to supposedly enhance the flavor of the beer.

Brand is not simply an execution of a gimmick or a restatement of a category benefit (cold and taste, for example). It is much more powerful than that. Until beer brands realize this and create emotional brands that come from the perspective of the consumer, they will continue to see their market share stagnate and decline as consumers leave their brands out in the cold.

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