(Golden, CO) – As thousands in the craft beer industry prepare to gather in Chicago this week for the 2010 Craft Brewers Conference, back in the Centennial State, MillerCoors quietly introduces one of its more serious competitors to craft beer to date, Colorado Native Lager.
The brew premiered last week with very little fanfare considering this is a new MillerCoors product. The company has yet to introduce any TV or print advertising and typing “Colorado Native Lager” into Google yielded only a handful of relevant results as of this posting.
Instead, MillerCoors held an invite-only launch party at the Mile High Station, introduced a new website, created a Facebook page and started shipping out the beer across Colorado. That’s right, Colorado Native Lager is already available on some shelves. MillerCoors is positioning this brand, brewed by the company’s AC Golden Brewing arm, as “craft” or, at the very least, “small.” AdAge’s recent look at Boston Beer Co.’s TV advertising shows how this marketing message can be lucrative for the big guys.
Here is a breakdown of (what I perceive to be) the Colorado Native Lager strategy:
Whereas Blue Moon succeeded in a time before these tools existed, MillerCoors now has social media to build authentic/small/local brands.
Craft breweries have increasingly taken to social media to create and sustain connections with drinkers. Over 50% of craft breweries in the U.S. now have a Facebook fan page and the number of U.S. craft breweries with Twitter accounts will hit 50% sometime next year. If breweries still don’t believe in Facebook or Twitter as valuable endeavors, look no further than Rock Art Brewery‘s viral public campaign during the Monster Energy fiasco or Fullsteam‘s substantial brand presence before it has even produced a single drop of craft beer.
MOBILE CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT
MillerCoors has another weapon beyond that of craft brewers though: SnapTags. You point and click your camera at an icon on the back label and send the pic as a message to a listed number. An automated CRM system then engages with you through back-and-forth mobile messaging. What that engagement entails is pretty wide open depending on the product though the AdAge article goes into the details as they pertain to CNL. For example, the buyer is able to vote for the charity for which they think that a portion of the proceeds from CNL sales should be donated.
This is the first product to use SpyderLynk’s SnapTags technology right on the product itself (instead of on a print ad as an example) according to AdAge.
The technology allows MillerCoors to establish a connection with drinkers who have mobile phones but don’t participate with brands on Facebook or Twitter. Now MillerCoors can text someone when the next Colorado Native Lager block party is or where the beer is appearing on tap near the drinker’s home or when the brewery is introducing a new beer like CNL, etc. Those are just a few ideas; one can see how valuable those connections could potentially be.
It is right there in the name. The beer bears the state name, is brewed in Colorado with virtually 100% Colorado ingredients, and will only be sold in Colorado (at least for now). The brewery is also holding no less than ten official events over the next month to help build word of mouth for the beer. Last but not least, there is the local charity angle.
A couple notes on the ingredients from the website: “As far as we know, Colorado Native is the only lager brewed with Moravian two-row barley grown in the San Luis Valley of Colorado. [...] Colorado Native is brewed with three hop varieties: Chinook, Centennial and Cascade. As with our barley, the San Luis Valley is also home to many of our hops.”
Again, MillerCoors turned to a Colorado business, Ten Fold Collective, based in Loveland (or more specifically, a Denver-based branding agency hired by MillerCoors called The Integer Group did). Thinking back to the local concept, Ten Fold notes, “the design bears all the hallmarks of our Colorado home: lodge pole pines, elements from the state flag, and the snow-capped peaks of the Rockies.” More packaging shots can be found here.
Colorado Native Lager certainly makex a compelling case for those seeking a new local beer. The odds are good that many won’t realize that this is one of many MillerCoors brands before making their purchase which, it goes without saying, is exactly how the company wants it.
The only thing yet to be determined is how much quality is really in that bottle.