My students frequently tell me how important beer is in their lives. Yet despite their outward proclamation, their actual drinking habits have changed and the beer industry is facing some significant headwinds. Bloomberg talks about the industry’s challenges in their article “Pour One Out for the Fading American Beer Industry“. Despite a significant increase in craft beer consumption, overall beer consumption has declined for three straight years. The carbs and calories in beer are pushing consumers toward alternatives like wine and hard liquor. Changes in consumer preferences pushed Bud Light to create their 2019 Super Bowl commercial focusing on their competitors’ use of corn syrup in their beers (by the way, this is a great example of comparative advertising). The article talks about other influences such as the legalization of marijuana which may serve as another alternative to beer, especially to the college crowd.
Ben & Jerry’s is the latest company to join the movement to discontinue use of plastic straws. This follows similar decisions by Disney, Starbucks, Royal Caribbean, the city of Seattle, and more. Ben & Jerry’s reported that they currently use 30 million plastic spoons and 2.5 million plastic straws each year. Concern over social responsibility is a growing trend and a great marketing tool for attracting employees and loyal customers.
Interestingly, if you want to talk about market research and validating secondary data, there’s another angle you can take on this story. If you search the Internet to see how many straws are used by Americans each day one of the most frequent figures you’ll find is 500 million. That statistic is quoted by National Geographic, government agencies, news networks, and more. However, that statistic hasn’t been well authenticated. This New York Times article covers the history of that statistic. It originated in 2011 from a 9 year old boy named Milo Cress. According to the NYT article, more rigorous studies suggest the number of straws is likely between 170-390 million. It’s still a very large number but this helps illustrate the need to authenticate the actual source and validity of secondary data.
This Guardian article, “‘Urinoir’ furore: Paris residents peeved at eco-friendly urinals” is a few months old but I thought it was still worth posting because it touches on several topics that we don’t come across every day. The gist of the article is that Paris has been struggling with a public urination problem and their solution has been met with a fair amount of controversy. The city of Paris has decided to introduce open-air public urinals in areas where they’ve had the most trouble. The hope is that this will incent men to use the urinal instead of the street when they need to relieve themselves. However, there has been a great deal of public backlash to the idea. Residents object to the urinals being placed close to historic buildings and some have even claimed they are discriminatory since they are only designed for men.
I thought this was interesting for a few reasons. First, it deals with a public relations issue from a public policy decision rather than a corporate entity. Students don’t often think about cities and states having to do marketing just as corporations do. Second, it brings up the issue of controversy and having to manage a controversial product roll-out. Finally, it’s an interesting solution to a problem but probably not the only possible solution. If you’re covering the product development process, this can be a great topic for discussion.
We love our Super Bowl commercials, especially in marketing programs, but I thought this USA Today article, “Who’s the real winner of Super Bowl LIII? Hint: It’s not the Patriots or the Rams” was a good example of a few different marketing concepts. According to the article, roughly 1.38 billion (yes, billion) chicken wings are expected to be consumed during this year’s Super Bowl – poor chickens! That number appears to be steadily increasing each year. Interestingly, women eat more wings than men on Super Bowl Sunday though men eat more food overall. The article talks about why wings are so popular and it’s a good example of a marketing opportunity to capitalize on a cultural tradition.
When traveling over the holidays my wife and I were surprised (and, frankly, irritated) by the number of animals traveling in the passenger cabin of our plane. This topic has been in the news a fair amount over the past year as people tried to bring squirrels, peacocks, and other animals on board under the guise of emotional support. Popeye’s has launched a seasonal marketing campaign capitalizing on the recent press. Their “Emotional Support Chicken” was available to passengers going through the Philadelphia airport. You can read more about the campaign in this Forbes article.