Let's Learn From Beer: Pick a Target Audience

Think of the last time you walked down the beer cooler aisle of your favorite adult beverage store. If it’s anything like mine, the cooler is so long, it has a vanishing point. Mass market brews, craft beers, flavored suds, ciders, imports, high-end, budget brews, darks, lights, in-betweens, pale ales, malts, stouts, silly names, clever gimmicks, and on and on. You get the idea. Now, imagine you owned a brewery. You and your brew crew are deciding how to compete with the prodigious options afforded beer lovers. Where do you start?

Start with the who. WHO is this beer for? And don’t “cheat” by saying it’s for all people who like to drink beer because, well, it’s not possible. Unless you’re selling toilet paper, NO product is for everyone. Think target market. Miller made a name for itself decades ago by being the beer for the working class. (“It’s Miller time.”) Lite beer from Miller burst on the scene by being the first mass market light beer for the sports lover. (“Tastes great. Less filling.”) Amstel Light was the number one imported light beer appealing to a more discriminating, calorie-conscious chugger. Stella Artois—with its distinctive "chalice"—elevated imported beer further by transforming it into an experience. Sam Adams. Keystone Light. Guinness. Many beer makers appeal—and market—to a specific audience. Here’s a great example. Nectar saw an opportunity in the market for a specialty beer

targeted at women. This honey brewed beverage comes packaged in a uniquely designed, honeycomb-shaped can and three-pack carrier. If Nectar went to market as a “beer for everyone,” they likely wouldn’t make a dent in that handsome can of theirs. But by targeting women beer drinkers, who don’t necessarily want to drink what the guys are drinking, they have a genuine chance of cutting through the clutter.

The other benefits of targeting your audience?
  • You’ll eliminate those who simply will not value what you offer (a 300-pound linebacker would likely have no use for a honey-laced malt beverage in a funny can)

  • You’ll have more effective marketing spending by concentrating it only on your niche

  • You can better focus your messaging—tailored to emphasize your customers' needs, not the needs of the entire beer-drinking universe

  • You’ll build a stronger referral base—once you penetrate and educate a target market on the benefits of your brand

In the differentiation game, understand WHO you’re selling to, and maybe more importantly, whom you’re NOT selling to. When you can't own a category, own an audience.

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