What brands come to mind if asked the question, "Which is the greatest all-time best selling beer?"
Do you think of Budweiser? Perhaps Miller Brewing Company tops your list?
Believe it or not, the best-selling beer of all time is an obscure label from China.
I bet Snow didn't top your list, but it ranks as number one globally for sales with 5.4% of global market share.
What kind of beer marketing strategy is resulting in an explosion of sales for a beer relatively unknown to the public?
One reason many people haven't heard about Snow is because its original market was very limited.
Produced in China, at first it was only available regionally.
The natural reaction is to then assume it's best-selling status is because of brand loyalty in the highest populated nation in the world. But you would be wrong.
With China's middle class explosion, in 2002 it became the greatest consumer of beer with dozens of foreign labels being locally brewed and crafted.
Despite the popularity in other countries of well-known brands like Carlsberg, Pabst Blue Label, Heineken and Anheuser-Busch, Snow still outperformed them all despite humble beginnings with a limited regional market.
For a beer to knock out of the lead Bud Light, which was China's legendary, long-time, best-selling beer, you would think it must taste fantastic.
However, reviews use words like "unimpressive" and "drinkable" to describe the brew. If it is not the taste that is selling Snow, what is driving the market?
Snow's Target Strategy
First of all the company planned for production for all container preferences: bottle, can and draft.
Sitting poolside where only cans are allowed? You can get Snow in a can. Watching the game at the local sports bar? Have Snow on draft. Living it up with friends? Nothing tastes better than beer served in a cold, glass bottle. This promotes brand loyalty when container versatility ensures your favorite beer is available anywhere.
Snow marketers then focused on promoting the brand in a single existing strong market area.
They first set their sights on the Jiangsu beer market. A laser focus was then applied to the southern sector of Jiangsu. Heavy advertising saturation soon secured the largest slice of the beer market pie.
From that strong foundation advertising expansion was aggressive and steady, growing the brand until it claimed number one beer status in the entire world.
But why would consumers switch from a brand they were familiar with to try a new brand?
Snow's Marketing Image: Social Responsibility
Snow breweries made a very public commitment to production methods modeled with particular social responsibility factors.
They are relying on technological excellence to enable them to live up to high standards of environmental protection.
Striving for energy efficiency that will minimize carbon emissions, is this a marketing strategy that is working for Snow?
Research indicates that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not only an effective marketing strategy to increase sales but to also sustain a market.
CSR was shown to create the added dimension of brand loyalty among consumers. In China, the expectation of social responsibility is even stronger than in the West.
CSR: A Contagious Marketing Strategy
The ripple effect of Snow's success can be seen in beer markets across the globe.
New Belgium Brewing Company has launched their own CSR marketing campaign focusing on sustainability. Considered a craft beer, New Belgium hopes to re-brand beer as a positive drink choice. Their focus is stewardship of water resources and minimizing carbon emissions that contribute to the effects of climate change. Their own market research of their customers reflect a consumer base that is:
- Strongly connected to their local communities.
- Highly aware of social responsibility.
- Actively do their own individual part to contribute to a more environmentally friendly society.
New Belgium believes that it is good business practice to deliver a product in line with their customer's lifestyle philosophy.
Following The Consumer
Modeling an effective marketing strategy begins with knowing and understanding your customer.
By following the consumer, discovering what is important to them, a marketing strategy takes shape that will capture their attention, motivate them to engage, and ensure they will return with loyalty.
With climate change and sustainability a key topic of concern for people worldwide, CSR marketing strategies may be the best plan for growing your brand.