Beer Marketers See Growth in Hispanic Segmentation, GenZ, Sports and Niche-Community Approaches

Beer Marketing: Where is growth in the highly competitive U.S. beer market? Portada asked beer marketers at Anheuser-Busch and Heineken about their vision for the growth of brands including Estrella Jalisco and Tecate Alta.

Where do beer marketers see expansion opportunities in the US $100 billion beer market? Beer marketing to Hispanic and other multicultural consumers certainly is an avenue for growth. “Hispanic drink 40% more beer than non-Hispanics. Hispanics are a very valuable consumer for the beer industry”, Mariana Lever, Sr. Director of Commercial Strategy & Planning, Anheuser-Busch said at a recent Portada Live event. Its’s no surprise that major beer industry players, like Constellation Brands, are investing in Hispanic consumer research.

Beer Marketing: Segmentation – What Drives Alcohol Choices?

“We have spent the last 10 years debating the right framework to segment Hispanics,” Anheuser-Busch’s Lever said.  Possible segmentation criteria include East Coast Hispanics (predominantly Puerto Rican, Dominican and Central American) vs. West Coast Hispanics (majority of Mexican-Americans),  Mexican vs. non-Mexican, language, and first, second, and third generation.

Lever notes that in 2021 Anheuser-Busch “went into a research deep dive to understand what is driving Hispanic alcohol choices. We landed on a segmentation that makes sense for what we are trying to do. The segmentation criteria are: Language, values, country of origin and acculturation.”

Language, values, country of origin and acculturation are our key Hispanic segmentation criterias.

 Estrella Jalisco’s Two-pronged Approach

Beer Marketing
Mariana Lever, Sr. Director Commercial Strategy & Planning, Anheuser-Busch and Alex Monroy, Alex Monroy, Sr. Brand Director, Estrella Jalisco & Challenger Brands, Anheuser-Busch, at a recent Portada Live event.

Anheuser-Busch’s Estrella Jalisco brand is a relatively small and new brand that has been working on awareness and consideration.  During a presentation about “Anheuser-Busch’s vision for the Hispanic consumer”, at a recent Portada Live event, Alexander Monroy, Sr. Brand Director | Estrella Jalisco & Challenger Brands, Anheuser-Busch noted that he has a two-pronged approach towards Estrella Jalisco beer marketing strategy and activations.  The first part is an answer to the question of where people are consuming the most beer.  In this regard, “beer and sports go well together”, Monroy said. “We are focused on the West Coast through a partnership with the MLB’s LA Dodgers (“Los Dodgers”). As well as with former Mexican MLB player Fernando Valenzuela” Soccer is another key sport, particularly when it comes to engaging the Hispanic population. Anheuser-Busch has a substantial involvement and investment in the 2022 Qatar Soccer World Cup. Estrella Jalisco specifically,  is sponsoring  Mexican National Team World Cup Soccer Watch Parties in Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Dallas. (For more information check out today’s Sales Leads column). 

The second part of Estrella Jalisco’s two-pronged strategy consists of a niche-community approach: It is about “building a sense of community and brand love through grassroots events and by establishing connections with tastemakers in smaller communities”, Monroy maintained. As an example of activations in this regard, he cited a recent “partnership with legendary tattoo artist Nikko Hurtado to get into different subcultures.”

Anheuser-Busch has an overall beer product portfolio of more than 500 brands.  Guillermo Perez, Chief Creative Officer & Brand Strategist at Digo, noted at our last Portada Live event that one of the challenges in Anheuser-Busch’s marketing to global audiences lies in the inconsistency that can arise out of managing a large portfolio of brands with overlapping marketing initiatives.  Perez asked Anheuser-Busch beer marketing executives what learnings they can share.  Mariana Lever responded that “we have approximately 5 campaigns for Estrella depending on the year. It’s about saying this is our strategy and we need to come back to it.” Alex Monroy noted that “it’s about time and consistency. Michelob Ultra is a great example of brand success due to consistency.”

it’s about time and consistency. Michelob Ultra is a great example of brand success due to consistency. 

Beer Marketing: GenZ Is Crucial

Belen Pamukoff
Belen Pamukoff, Brand Director Tecate and Tecate Light at Heineken USA

Because of their youth and influence, GenZers, those between ages 10 to 25 (born between 1997 and 2012), are a crucial demographic for beer marketers. GenZers make up 36% of the overall U.S. Hispanic population of approximately 60 million. “We are laser-focused on the 21-34 years old demographic, with emphasis on the 21-29; the Gen Z market. This generation is glued to their phones,” Belen Pamukoff, Brand Director Tecate and Tecate Light at Heineken USA, recently told Portada. GenZ is the key demographic Tecate Alta’s recently launched  “Bring your All” campaign is aimed at. The campaign seeks to attract a new generation that is as unique and unconventional as the Tecate Alta brand itself, Pamukoff notes. It also wants to refresh the high-growth ultra-light beer category led by competitor Michelob Ultra (Anheuser Busch). Compared to the launch campaign last fall, the current “Bring Your All” campaign is “more emotional”,  Pamukoff mantains. To successfully do gen Z marketing you “need an emotional message to create more impact,” she adds. “Particularly in order to compete with Michelob Ultra, who has 3 or 4 times our budget. Tecate Alta’s target consumers are a mix of Mexican and Americans, but it goes beyond that. They don’t want to be labeled or be put in a box. They don’t want to be told how to look. We want to break all these stereotypes. That is what resonates with GenZ. Let’s inspire a new generation to embrace complex perspectives, yet see things more clearly,” Pamukoff asserts.

Growth Beyond Beer

2021 was the 12th consecutive year spirits have taken away market share from beer in the total U.S. alcoholic beverage market, according to a report earlier this year from the Distilled Spirits Council, a national trade organization. The beer category, which includes hard seltzer, accounted for 42% of the U.S. beverage alcohol market in 2021, while spirits accounted for 41%, according to DISCUS. Anheuser-Busch, who like other beer giants has expanded into the spirits category, is running tests targeting the Hispanic consumer to tap into potential growth opportunities. “There is a whole world beyond beer where Hispanics have traditionally been under-indexing, but that is changing. We are running several pilots in beyond beer-related products like cocktails. We also have a company in the spirit space that is based in California and we are trying to understand what Hispanics like of it,” Anheuser-Busch’s Lever concludes.

There is a whole world beyond beer where Hispanics have traditionally been under-indexing, but that is changing.