Meet the Millennial Craft Beer Lovers - Does Shock Top Have a Chance?


By Max

Our new Pitch Brief for Shock Top combines with an in-depth look into the minds (and refrigerators) of Millennial Craft Beer Lovers. The question is: Can the Anheuser-Busch brand win them over?

The ABC’s of Anheuser-Busch Craft Brews

Anheuser-Busch seems to own nearly every beer brand you’ll see on a typical store shelf. Brands you’d never guess. Of course there’s Budweiser, Bud Light, and Michelob – but there’s also Kirin (Japanese), Stella Artois, Hoegaarden and Leffe (Belgian), and Boddingtons and Bass (English).

Even though Bud Lite is the best-selling beer in almost every U.S. state – and the best-selling beer internationally – Anheuser-Busch has its eye on one market that, historically, hasn’t given any of its brands much attention: Millennial Craft Beer consumers.


Meet the Millennial Craft Beer Consumer – Their Growlers Got Bite

Millennial craft beer lovers are snobs, and proud of it. They go for small-production, local, specialty breweries that don’t even try to appeal to the mainstream American beer drinker. To this crowd, Bud Lite is good for one thing: a substitute for water if water can’t be found. And that’s to put it politely. Don’t even talk to them about putting a lime in Corona. They’ll drink a fruity sour any day, but plop an actual piece of fruit in it, and you might as well be drinking PBR un-ironically. These folks take their brews seriously.

And, they’re taking over the beer scene. Even though the Craft market only took 12.2% of the entire beer market in 2015, those sales were worth $22.3 Billion (and sales are rising fast). In 2015, Craft beer sales grew 12.8% while beer sales overall were down by .2%, and export craft beer rose even faster at 16.3%.

Demographically, Millennials are most likely to drink craft beer on a weekly basis, and while most craft drinkers are white, there is a rising number of Hispanic imbibers (representing an enormous potential market).

Anheuser-Busch has taken notice of the trend and wants in on it – badly. In the past few years, they’ve gone on a “shopping spree,” buying craft breweries like Goose Island (Chicago), 10 Barrel Brewing (Bend, Oregon). 
But here’s the problem: When Anheuser-Busch buys a craft brewery, the beer no longer meets the definition of “craft.” Craft breweries are independently owned, smaller-production operations – a definition craft beer enthusiasts know only too well.

Yet, there is a growing segment of consumers who are just entering into their love of craft beer. And they really don’t care about the dictionary definition. They drink what they like.


Shock Top Has Potential for an Underserved Segment

Anheuser-Busch is in talks with agencies to plan the creative around Shock Top, which some call a “faux craft” brand. It’s one of the beers contributing to a new vocabulary term in the world of malt and hops: the “Craft-style” beer. (It’s not the first time Anheuser-Busch has stretched the truth – earlier this year a beer drinker sued them because Leffe isn’t actually made by Belgian monks!).

Shock Top’s brand presence is just irreverent enough to make 75% of consumers believe it’s from a small, unknown brewery. Its flagship unfiltered Belgian style wheat beer, brewed with citrus and coriander, is easy-drinking and delicious, and in many ways, it’s the perfect gateway into the more complex flavor profiles of true craft beers.

Shock Top’s claim to fame is its seasonal flavored beers – a summer ‘Shandy,’ Fall pumpkin, and winter chocolate. This opens up another demographic avenue for marketing, one which has been largely untapped (pun intended) by beer companies in general: Women. Women between the ages of 22 and 34 years old comprise 39% of flavored beer consumers. These ladies like their beers fruity, sometimes spicy, and often diluted with juice, tea or soft drinks. Traditional craft beer lovers they are not – but they do have purchasing power.


Find out more

In our most deliciously complex pitch brief to date, we delve deep into the intersection of the Shock Top demographic, and the Millennial Craft Beer consumers. If you love craft beer and marketing (we think it’s a great pairing), this is one you’ll want to read just for fun.


Topics: Knowledge; Infographic; New Business Pitch