The Cackalacky Craft Beer Craze

November 26th, 2014 in branding, culture, packaging | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | by | Leave a comment

It is no coincidence that a recent Wall Street Journal article bemoaning the declining fortunes of America’s “King of Beers” was filed from North Carolina, home of four time winner of the Beer City, USA poll (Asheville, NC) and a booming state wide craft beer scene. North Carolina, where we call home here at W5, is an appropriate place to write an article about the demise of Budweiser because as the articles’ title implies – “Bud Crowded Out by Craft Beer Craze” – North Carolina is deep in the midst of a craft beer craze.

Beer drinkers, particularly of the millennial variety, increasingly favor craft beer and we have an abundance of craft beers in North Carolina! I do not pretend by any means to imply that North Carolina is on par with states like California, Colorado or Oregon in terms of the maturity of the craft beer scene, but the number of breweries in North Carolina has grown from just 26 in 2006 to over 110 today.

There are two reasons that help explain why people are drinking more micro beers and fewer macro beers. First, people are becoming more inclined to drink craft beer for the very important reason that craft beers simply taste better. I am as big a fan as anyone of an icy cold Coors (or six) on a hot summer day, but I don’t think anyone can deny that craft beers offer a greater depth of complexity and nuanced flavors than beers like Coors or Budweiser.

The second reason people are drinking more craft beer, which goes hand in hand with the larger local food movement, is that people like to consume beer that is locally brewed and is a reflection of the community of which they are a part. Localism is huge these days from food, to community planning, to beer. Localism is so big that more established breweries are obscuring their roots in those previously mentioned beer meccas of the West Coast to take on a local identity.

Asheville, NC is soon to be home to East Coast breweries for the second and third largest craft brewers in the U.S.  – California’s Sierra Nevada and Colorado’s New Belgium of Fat Tire fame. Oskar Blues Brewery, from Colorado and the 24th largest craft brewer, opened its East Coast brewery near Asheville in 2013. While it makes logistic sense for a brewer with national aspirations to open an East Coast brewery in North Carolina, as a good midpoint distribution center between the Southeast and the Northeast, there are clearly also some style points that go along with marketing that beer as a North Carolina based craft beer.

Oskar Blues beers that are brewed in North Carolina have “Brevard, North Carolina” prominently displayed across their cans. What I find to be interesting about this is that many North Carolinians who were previously unfamiliar with Oskar Blues now believe this beer to be an original North Carolina creation. While it is technically a craft beer brewed in North Carolina I find it more accurate to describe it as Colorado craft beer with a North Carolina brewery. I really like Oskar Blues beer and enjoyed my fair share of Oskar Blues when I lived in Colorado, but when I am looking to pick up a six pack of local North Carolina craft beer I skip past the Oskar Blues and pick up one of the many equally tasty options whose roots do truly run deep through NC.

I will be interested to see if Sierra Nevada and New Belgium also market the beer they brew and distribute out of the Asheville region as North Carolina craft beer. I think it will be more difficult to convince consumers that these beers are original NC craft beers because both have much greater brand awareness than Oskar Blues, but we shall see!

In the meantime here are a few of my favorite North Carolina craft beers as well as my favorite brewery in North Carolina. I am not sure how widely these beers are distributed outside of North Carolina but if you ever see one, or come to visit our beautiful state, be sure to try them out!Gaelic Ale

Gaelic Ale – Highland Brewing Company – Asheville, NC

Highland is one of the oldest craft breweries in North Carolina, opening in 1994, and they have really got it dialed in. Gaelic Ale is a deep amber-colored American ale, with a rich malty body. Gaelic was Highland’s first beer and was named in honor of the Scots and Irish who settled the Appalachian region. It was also my first NC craft beer which may explain why I will always have a soft spot in my heart for this beer.

Southern Pale Ale – Natty Greene’s Brewing Company – Greensboro, NCSouthern Pale Ale

Natty Greene’s is named for Major General Nathanael Greene who led the Southern Campaign during the Revolutionary War and who is also the namesake for Greensboro, where this brewery is located. Their Southern Pale Ale is a medium-bodied deep golden ale with a distinct bitter character and a hoppy, piney-citrus finish.

Ka-Bar Brown (pronounced Kaybar) – Railhouse Brewery– Aberdeen, NCka bar brown

Ka-Bar Brown is a beer that I tried just recently and I am a big fan. Made with traditional brewer’s malt, a touch of crystal, chocolate malts, as well as Mt. Hood and Cascade hops, this English Style Brown Ale has a slight nutty undertone and a mild bite at the end. Railhouse is a veteran owned brewery that uniquely focuses on the malted barley instead of the hops that are such a dominant part of the craft beer scene.

Cack-a-lacky – Fullsteam Brewery – Durham, NCcackalackly

While I haven’t been totally won over by the taste of this beer, a ginger pale ale which is brewed with both fresh and candied ginger to create its balanced yin-yang flavor, I love the localism that this beer and this brewery represent. Cackalacky is a quirky and beloved nickname of North Carolina and Fullsteam positions itself as a “plow-to-pint” brewery that uses local Southern ingredients as much as possible to give their beer distinct character and to create jobs and wealth for North Carolina farmers and food producers.

Outer Banks Brewing Station – Kill Devil Hills, NCOBBS brewing station

You can only get Outer Banks Brewing Station beer from their brewery on the beautiful beaches of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. But should you ever find yourself out that way be sure to check this place out. They have fantastic beer and their food is also great. The Outer Banks Brewing Station is also the first wind powered brewery in the United States! Be sure to look out for their windmill and stop in for a beer!

Spotlight: Developing Personas

November 25th, 2014 in Uncategorized | by | Leave a comment

From time to time we like to share some of what we’ve been up to, including how our research engagements have helped clients achieve their business objectives. This case study highlights W5′s approach and the resulting deliverables for developing Personas for a consumer-facing brand.

Personas are an interesting combination of approaches, existing research, and creative inspiration. The idea is to build seemingly real people to bring the customer to life inside the walls of a client office. Often both the discovery process and the results are surprising as the Personas developed may offer new viewpoints not often currently championed. It’s a powerful approach that helps in the design and implementation of branding, communications, products, and line extensions. This case study highlights how a seemingly straightforward category can contain high levels of complexity and nuance in terms of audiences and how they engage the category.

Crafting Communication Strategy with Personas

A leading convenience foods company was interested in redesigning their communication strategy for a popular morning food brand. Ultimately, the client sought to realign their advertising and brand positioning to include a broader family audience, shifting their focus from moms and teens exclusively.

APPROACH
W5 recommended developing lifestyle and behavior-motivated Personas to guide the client’s understanding of a broader core consumer audience. W5 consultants conducted in-depth in-home interviews and shop-alongs with a diverse representation of select family members. Conversations focused on emotional and rational connections to the food brand and their lifestyle approach, including attitudes toward time management, food decisions, and emotional outlook. Participants were asked to keep diaries of their daily eating habits to help stimulate category engagement and uncover underlying attachments to the brand.

RESULTS
Based on this extensive, in-context research, W5 developed and presented a set of core Personas and a set of secondary Personas representing a wide range of family roles (father, mother, brother, sister, etc.) and ages. The Personas represented consumer archetypes defined by emotional connections to the brand and a general approach to life and happiness. These Personas served as a long-lasting, memorable, and accessible tool the company could refer to when developing communication strategy.

Spotlight is a special feature of the W5 Blog showcasing W5 consultants’ approach to designing marketing research studies, creating engaging deliverables, and informing strategy. For more information on W5’s approach to qualitative or quantitative research contact: projects@W5insight.com.

Brand Shout-Out: Nordstrom

November 20th, 2014 in advertising, branding, Fashion | Tagged | by | Leave a comment

My mind is naturally attuned to all things marketing-related, whether I’m out in the field or relaxing on the couch with some of my favorite Shonda Rhimes characters. When I leave the office I try to flip the switch to my internal analyst off  but sometimes the light flickers back on. This happens most when I’m inspired, amazed, or emotionally-touched by a company or brand’s creative work. The last time the lights flickered for me was during a pre-holidays catalog browsing sesh for some of my favorite clothing, housewares and lifestyles brands.

Here’s what sparked my lights:

Nordstrom Holiday Shopping Shortcuts

Nordstrom Holiday Shopping Shortcuts

This handy little “cheat sheet” wraps up Nordstrom’s value propositions in a gigantic, sparkly Christmas bow. It speaks to the benefits of making Nordstrom your go-to shopping destination for all things Christmas and provides solutions to almost any present-shopping query. Nordstrom has always had a reputation for being supremely customer-service oriented (surely you’ve heard the fabled tire story), but this snappy graphic is a fresh approach to making the shopping experience easy and even engaging for today’s digitally-savvy customer.

Whichever way you slice it, whether your shopping in-store, shopping online, or don’t even know where or how to begin your shopping journey (there’s a “gift guru” for that), Nordstrom has your back. So a big shout-out to Nordstrom for embracing cross-channel shopping, providing customer-oriented solutions, and showcasing them in a simple and creative way. Smart work that makes me want to leave the lights on a little longer.  Forbes even agrees with me, albeit for a set of slightly different reasons.

Visualizing With Fruit

November 18th, 2014 in Data Visualization | Tagged , , | by | Leave a comment

This is simple, even silly, but I’ve never found a better example of the value of data visualization. It makes a difficult concept approachable and relatable; everyone gets this.

Visualizing Fruit

 

(via Kottke, Boing Boing)

 

Social Logins: Infographic

October 28th, 2014 in infographics, social networking, technology | by | Leave a comment

Facebook is constantly evolving. Though it has always been a platform for users to share their profound thoughts and insights (or more commonly pictures of babies and fancy meals…), Facebook has also become a very common third-party identity/login provider. The infographic below, created by Gigya, shows the trends in social logins over time and for this past quarter (Q3 2014). It’s definitely interesting to see how the other social networks play in different industries. Who knew Google+ was such a big player in the media & publishers login space!

Also, be sure to check out Victor White’s blog post about the infographic here.

Q3 Social Login Infographica

SPOTLIGHT: GOING BEYOND BASIC BRAND/AD TRACKING

October 24th, 2014 in advertising, branding, knowledge, market research | Tagged , , , , , , , , | by | Leave a comment

FAN2012517Establishing reliable benchmarks and tracking the health of a brand and the success of marketing initiatives over time is imperative, but tracking research need not be limited to monitoring awareness, consideration, and stated intent.

W5’s approach to strategic tracking research goes beyond basic “brand funnel” metrics to explore an evolving marketplace, bringing depth and context to consumer behavior and attitudes. A more holistic and strategic approach to tracking research helps a company not only understand their relative brand health, but also how their brand is perceived and fits within the marketplace. In these situations, our clients have taken the time and made the investment to get their target consumers engaged in a survey…so why not dig a little deeper than the typical brand/ad tracking survey?

Here is an example of how we recently extended a brand health study into something more exploratory and ultimately, revealing:

REVEALING AND TRACKING CONSUMER ATTITUDES AND RETAIL BEHAVIORS

A category-leading CPG company partnered with W5 to better understand the state of their category and how to best position their products in stores. In addition to running brand health tracking research to map back to previously collected data, the study was extended to explore consumers’ attitudes and opinions about the category, brand and product, and examined consumers’ purchasing behaviors. The following year, a parallel wave of research was conducted to not only track the brand health but also the extended learning.

APPROACH

In addition to asking questions to compare back to the earlier waves of survey research, additional questions were included to derive a holistic view of the marketplace and the challenges facing the brand. These questions included exploration of consumers’ perceptions and expectations of the company, its competitors, and product locations in stores as well as opinions of new packaging options. Through in-depth tracking reporting, W5 illustrated new trends in the marketplace, communicated how consumers’ perceptions have changed over time, and highlighted shifts in consumers’ expectations.

RESULTS

The client used the study insights to guide branding and communications efforts to maintain their leadership role in the marketplace. The learning was also used as a resource for sales teams to inform communication with store management regarding the placement of products in stores. The information has allowed for the client’s products to be positioned competitively, and in the locations consumers expect to find them.

This is just one example of how W5 can do more with multiple wave tracking research than showing how brand and advertising health metrics have shifted over a time period. Contact us for additional perspective on strategic tracking research. We would be happy to share our W5 white paper on the topic or discuss your research initiatives.

Spotlight is a special feature of the W5 Blog showcasing W5 consultants’ approach to designing marketing research studies, creating engaging deliverables, and informing strategy. For more information on W5’s approach to strategic tracking or other quantitative or qualitative research, contact projects@w5insight.com

No pain, no gain

October 23rd, 2014 in Blog, culture | by | Leave a comment

Maybe it’s because I’ve spent a lot of time in airports lately, captive to mainstream cable TV viewing habits, but I feel like extreme fitness and endurance shows (think Naked and Afraid or American Ninja Warrior) are a big thing in American culture right now. Taken together with mud-drenched obstacle courses, CrossFit diehards and exercise routines with ‘insanity’ in their name and I’d say we have a trend worthy of some cultural analysis on our hands.

Endurance

When you look closer there is some truly fascinating stuff going on:
• Militaristic regimens
• Notions of penance, atonement and salvation
• Physical asceticism & pain
• Survivalist mindsets
• Strong interpersonal bonding through shared experience & accomplishment

Clearly I’m not alone in thinking this, as a recent article in The Sunday Times Magazine nicely proves. It does a great job at exploring some of the themes mentioned above.

I suppose the big question is why – or perhaps more specifically, why now? What does it say about the current American psyche writ large?

Is it a response to larger trends involving technology, human connection and a return to physical experience? Does this notion of preparedness reflect larger perceived treats like terrorism and disease? Does the attraction to extreme challenge, discipline, endurance and accomplishment speak to a deeper search for purpose, structure and meaning?

It will be interesting to follow these practices and rituals over the coming years to see if they gain traction or peter out – no doubt to be replaced by something else that is equally revealing.

10 New Hispanic Consumer Trends

October 22nd, 2014 in market research, study | Tagged , , | by | Leave a comment

Recently, the Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends Project put out a list of emerging trends among Hispanic Americans. Understanding their new trends can go a long way in identifying ways to speak to the Hispanic consumer and understand shifts in consumption and behavior.

download

1. The US Hispanic population is now at 54.1 million which solidifies their place as the second-largest ethnic group in the US. That means that close to 20% of Americans are Hispanic. This is a huge growth, as Hispanics made up only 5% of the population in 1970.

2. Five Hispanic origin groups have grown to one million people each: Cubans, Salvadorans, Dominicans, Guatemalans and Colombians. This means a larger and unprecedented variation of country of origin among Hispanic Consumers.

3. The share foreign born among Hispanics varies by origin group. Only a third of Mexican origin Hispanics are foreign born, far lower than any other major group.

4. Income of Hispanic immigrants have slowed greatly. This means that a growing number of American-born Hispanics are aging into adulthood and becoming the face of the next Hispanic consumer.

5. Hispanics are the youngest of racial and ethnic groups with a median age of 27, a decade younger than the US overall. There is also a large difference in median age among US-born and foreign born Hispanics.

6. The number of Hispanics under the age of 18 have doubled in the last decade.

7. Hispanics are still the largest immigrant group in the US, despite the slower levels of incoming immigrants.

8. The share of Hispanics who identify as Catholics has decreased 67% since 2010.

9. A record-breaking number of Hispanics are eligible to vote in 2014, 21.3 million more than in 2010.

10. Hispanics still mainly speak Spanish at home.

Learn more about the Hispanic Trends Project here.

Nike, Cultural Relevance, and Market Dominance

October 22nd, 2014 in branding, culture, Fashion | Tagged , | by | Leave a comment

Nike ReebokThe recent news of a potential bid by an investor group to buy Reebok from Addidas (which purchased Reebok in 2006) is interesting not necessarily because of Reebok’s struggle to remain relevant ever since its pinnacle with the phenomenon known as “The Pump” – but because of the utter dominance that Nike has over the U.S. sneaker market. This is not so much a story about what Reebok has done wrong or what Nike has done right, but about Nike’s identity as an American cultural icon.

Nike’s market share has grown from 35% in 2005 to 60% in 2014, while Addidas’s market share has been nearly cut in half and Reebok’s market share is a one-quarter of what it was in 2005. While it is conceivable that Reebok can gain back some of its lost market share it is hard to imagine Nike, with all of its cultural cachet, ever falling from its perch atop the sneaker industry. In a category that is ostensibly driven by athletic functionalism, Nike transcends consumer expectations of athletic shoes to be a brand that more broadly reflects being a part of a tribe driven by a determination to achieve excellence.

Well – Nike has clearly achieved excellence in the sneaker market. As both Nike and Red Bull have shown, cultural relevance and market dominance is achieved not through offering products or solutions bounded by the limitations of category expectations, but instead through offering inspiration to transcend expectations. Unfortunately for Reebok, it is going to take much more than changing the logo or a singular focus on fitness (or another gimmicky shoe) to turn its fortunes around.

 

 

 

 

HALLOWEEN SPENDING FOR 2014 [INFOGRAPHIC]

October 20th, 2014 in Blog, infographics, market research | by | Leave a comment

While kids reach into buckets of candy, adults are reaching deep into their wallets. An expected $7.4 billion will be spent on Halloween festivities in 2014, including over $2 billion on candy. Do you have a furry friend who likes to participate in the festivities? About $350 million will be spent on pet costumes. Check out the infographic below from Zanifesto to see more spooky spending.

spooky-spending-statistics-for-halloween-2014_5427748909242_w1500