What is the difference between a hipster and an influencer? Hipsters are a subculture that emphasizes authenticity, quite the opposite of influencers. In this article we are going to discuss how a beer company made a significant comeback by creating influencers out of hipster culture.
Have you noticed how alcohol sales have spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic? We are going to be focussing on Pabst Blue Ribbon – it was founded in 1844, and they were a tremendous player in the beer market. When men realized they needed to be healthy to live longer, beer companies started making low-calorie alternatives. However, Pabst played into their older market still, the people who loved them during their peak. Eventually, Pabst began to lose market share and had twenty-three straight years of declining sales.
So, Pabst hires a twenty-seven-year-old marketing manager, Neal Stewart, as their last chance to stay open. Neal hires an ad agency, despite having no budget. The ad agency is lucky to get an opportunity with a big brand. At the same time, they have to do a campaign with basically no money. The agency gets creative and realizes that Pabst was doing okay in a few markets, in fact, some markets were getting significant growth. They decided to visit those markets and talk to the people on the ground. People were drinking PBR because it felt authentic, and they weren’t being marketed to from the company. So, PBR realized a big ad campaign would do more harm than good.
Pabst Blue Ribbon embraced storytelling – they started one of the most successful influencer marketing strategies in recent history. The trick was to get the most influential people to talk to their friends about PBR and give them a good story to share. They kept giving people who loved the beer more reasons to talk about it. They were able to develop a strong presence in key markets, one person at a time. PBR made an impression on young people by starting a lot of conversations. It worked, and their sales started to increase again.
However, times started changing yet again, and PBR had no mechanism to communicate with their audience. They pinned themselves in a corner, they couldn’t advertise in their marketplace effectively. Since the plateau and their second decline in sales, PBR is making some strategic hiring decisions in 2020. Will lightning strike twice for PBR?
It’s one thing to sell a lifestyle, but you have to ask yourself what vehicles you are using to do so.
If you would like to hear two industry experts further dissect this topic, head over to The Marketing Rescue Podcast