Looking at U.S. Hispanics and their relationship to the beverage industry — in particular, their loyalty to certain beverage brands — is important, because it allows us to draw broader conclusions about how best to reach out to the Hispanic audience.
The primary alcoholic beverage of choice for most Hispanics is beer. In Nielsen’s words, the demographic “[gets] behind beer in a big way,” with 44% of Hispanic adults claiming “to have consumed a beer within the last 30 days,” a percentage slightly above the U.S. average. It’s not surprising, then, that breweries are coming up with brews specifically aimed at reaching the demographic.
While Corona is perhaps the most well-known imported beer, due partly to the success of its “Find Your Beach” campaigns, there are a number of other beers marketed with the specific aim of reaching Hispanic consumers. Chief among them are Dos Equis, owned by Heineken, and Modelo Especial, owned by Constellation (which also owns Corona).
Recently, another one was added to the mix: Sol, previously owned by Heineken but now in the hands of MillerCoors, is making a push to be the beer of choice for Mexican American Millennials. Unlike other brands, which have focused on appealing to a wide range of consumers, MillerCoors is “going squarely after second-generation Mexican Americans,” complete with ads shot in Mexico featuring local designers, street dancers and musicians.
Ashley Selman, VP of emerging and economy brands at MillerCoors, says that Sol “represents a vibrancy and beauty that comes from the heart of Mexico — that is where flavor and color and food and family all play a really critical role.” The decision to reinforce Sol’s link with Mexico, where it was first brewed in 1899, is indicative of a larger trend. Says Eric Penicka, research analyst at Euromonitor, “Connecting with their roots attracts Hispanic consumers to beers they very well may have consumed in their native countries.” Or, in the case of Sol’s marketing campaign, the country where their family originates.
While it might seem like an odd strategy to market Mexican beers to the Hispanic audience as a whole, Penicka points out that, although one-third of the Hispanic community in the U.S. is not originally of Mexican origin, “Hispanics from neighboring areas in Central America with cultural similarities have also found familiarity with Mexican beer brands and gravitated towards them.”
But what of craft breweries? One would think that, given the recent boom in the popularity of craft beer and the affinity that many Hispanics have for beer, they would be one of the early adopters (and enthusiastic consumers) of the trend. Unfortunately for craft breweries, this has not been the case: Hispanics make up only about 21% of weekly craft beer drinkers, whereas white non-Hispanics are responsible for about 60%.
This doesn’t mean that Hispanics dislike craft beer; in fact, 54% of Hispanic Millennials say they would try it if they had more information on it. In other words, the only reason that Hispanics aren’t drinking craft beer in larger quantities is because it isn’t being marketed to them properly — which is a huge mistake, considering that Hispanics are the reason that sales of premium/imported beer in the United States are soaring.This is a huge opportunity that brands large and small would do well to explore.
Beer is a huge cultural touchpoint for many Hispanics, not only because it gives immigrants the chance to connect with what’s familiar, but also because of the important role it plays in family life. It’s no surprise, then, that advertisers are beginning to hone in on the cultural aspect of beer-drinking, as Sol’s example highlights. Whether the brand takes off in the United States remains to be seen — but either way, it’s a great example of a brand understanding what its consumer values, and trying to embody that in a product.