Beer Brands Look to Big Data for Insights

December 15, 2015
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Big data is changing the way business is done and one of the newest big data converts is the beverage industry. Beer may be one of the oldest low tech beverages but the companies who brew it in bulk batches are going high tech to ensure they can compete with a new surge of small batch craft beers. Marketing is an obvious place to apply customer knowledge gleaned from big data, but some brands are also using big data insights as they look at the product itself. Here are just some of the ways the beer industry is embracing big data.

Heineken

Big data is changing the way business is done and one of the newest big data converts is the beverage industry. Beer may be one of the oldest low tech beverages but the companies who brew it in bulk batches are going high tech to ensure they can compete with a new surge of small batch craft beers. Marketing is an obvious place to apply customer knowledge gleaned from big data, but some brands are also using big data insights as they look at the product itself. Here are just some of the ways the beer industry is embracing big data.

Heineken

This company is using analytics in several ways. For instance, Heineken has a trading partnership with Facebook and the data they’ve captured as a result enabled them to develop a real-time event-driven marketing experience that is highly personalized. That data will also be used to deliver targeted marketing messages to specific consumer groups who regularly attend sporting events.

On the ground, Heineken employed PrimeSense sensors provided by Shopperception to track the in-store behavior of customers. It identified where inside Walmart stores that consumers would actually grab a six pack (e.g., at themed displays or in the beer section) and that gave the company the insights it needed to develop physical marketing strategies like changes to shelf placement and packaging that were driven by facts instead of theories.

Guinness 

You might think the company’s 256 year old recipe would be untouchable but all it took was customer data along with direct input to prompt the brand to reassess its use of animal products in its classic brew. Guinness loving vegans have long bemoaned the company’s use of isinglass (fish bladder collagen) in its production process, but it was only in 2015 that the company decided to stop using the fish byproduct. 

And cutting out ingredients isn’t all the company is doing. Guinness’ analysis of the numbers also lead them to create a wholly new product – English-style Nitro IPA – after market analysis showed that customers loved the nitrogenation in cans that the brand is famous for.

Anheuser-Busch

This brand’s entire motto might very well be data, data, data. Anheuser-Busch uses a data-driven approach when analyzing its assets, i.e., its lineup of craft, premium and mass-market brews. It looks at everything from the location of on-premise beer sales to the category, then category of sales by location. Big data was partially responsible for the development of the Lime-a-Rita, which famously allowed retail locations that couldn’t sell liquor to offer a beer alternative. Additionally, big data drives internal decisions related to hiring, team composition and the company’s overall culture.

Big data will likely become even more important in the beer world due to the upcoming merger of the world’s two biggest brewers, Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller. To compete, smaller but still substantial companies will need to rethink existing processes, strategies, marketing and technology to keep up with the newly merged entity. Add to that the triple challenge of waning consumer demand, increasing competition and the fact that craft brewers are now officially beating the big guys in the US, and it’s clear data has never been more important.

The takeaway is this: To ensure that your brew is the one the next customer buys, you have to know the customer. Not just who he is and what he wants but also where he is and what he reads and when he buys and a host of other data points. Only then is real competition possible.