After just six months of marketing heavily to millennial drinkers with its youth-focused Two Hats brand, MillerCoors decided to pull the plug on the self-described “good cheap beer.” It seems, despite an aggressive “Wait, What?” digital campaign that leveraged influencers across YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram, the brewery was unable to impress millennials, who are drinking fewer alcoholic beverages overall.
Those who do drink generally show a far greater preference for spirits and wine—consuming about 42 percent of all wine in the US in 2015 according to a report from Wine Spectator—the latter of which has been marketed as inexpensive, fun and even health-conscious beverages.
MillerCoors launched Two Hats in February, specifically targeting 21- to 24-year-old consumers who think that beer is too expensive and doesn’t taste very good. This demographic has been particularly difficult for the beer industry to engage with compared to older generations. Beer consumption for this audience has fallen by 3 percent over the past 15 years, but the company felt that it was imperative to reach out, as they will comprise about 40 percent of legal-age drinkers by 2020.
To address this audience, MillerCoors collaborated with alumni from The Remix Project, a Chicago-based incubator program, to help adjust the tone of the campaign. Using the message, “Good cheap beer is coming… so stop your wine-ing,” MillerCoors launched a campaign that relied heavily on digital, influencer, social and experiential marketing to reach drinkers on mobile phones, tablets, streaming devices and gatherings such as music festivals, street fairs and sporting events.
The campaign included content such as shareable memes and gifs on social media platforms, including College Humor, Facebook and Instagram. In total, the company said that its campaign included over 200 short spots developed in partnership with Spotify, Snapchat, YouTube, BleacherReport and The Onion.
Its debut videos on YouTube featured the spectacular destruction of wine bottles, shots and mixed drinks in an effort to encourage young consumers to try beer. The brewer also partnered with influencers, including Scotty Sire and Zane Hijazi, who made branded videos and Instagram posts, in addition to planning a video series with College Humor that was estimated to reach 29 million viewers. Meanwhile, social media posts leveraged occasions ranging from Earth Day to LGBT Pride Month and first job scenarios.
On the experiential side, MillerCoors invested in a large-scale sampling campaign to try to get millennial drinkers to switch over to beer. Partnering with Spotify, the company hosted tasting parties featuring musicians such as Shallou, who played alongside a string quartet.
This extensive campaign seemed to be working at first, with the company reporting in April that Snapchat engagements were higher than the industry average and consumers were watching branded YouTube videos two times longer than average. However, the run ended in August after the company reported both volume and profit declines in its second quarter. Two Hats will be removed from stores by 2019.
Although MillerCoors will continue to reach out to young drinkers in the future, it decided to focus its spending and attention on its Coors Light and Miller Lite brands, both of which appeal to an older demographic, in addition to the Mexican import beer Sol. But, perhaps all adult beverages should be worried about losing young drinkers, as the generation after millennials may end up with a preference for cannabis over alcohol after more states decriminalize the substance.
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