More and more large corporate brands are seeing the value of their labels slowly diminish as the little guys continue to sweep up a greater share of the market. Quite frankly this is because the smaller brands do a better job of connecting with consumers. I’m hesitant to say that the dawn of the social media age is the cause because no one wants to hear how great it is, (So called experts have already beat a dead horse on the matter) but it is a significant factor.
For most little guys, meager budgets have necessitated the adoption of the free internet marketing tools social media provides. Over the last several years, small business have successfully identified innovative platforms like Facebook and Twitter as places to talk to customers. Yet, there is nothing preventing larger brands from entering into the game either.
Michelob Ultra, a division of Anheuser-Busch and one of the most iconic lines in the company’s brand portfolio, has done an excellent job of connecting with consumers in new ways. They’ve developed a very nice-looking, golf-focused Facebook application called Walk the Course that allows golfers to log the amount of golf holes they walk and earn badges similar to those of Foursquare. The company sponsors running and cycling events to help develop a sense of community among runners and cyclists. They’ve even landed Tour de France champion, Lance Armstrong, to be the company’s spokesperson.
Anheuser-Busch killing it in the light beer market and growing the Michelob brand because they’ve focused on connecting with consumers. They settled on a solid market profile (younger, health conscious professionals who run, play golf, and/or cycle), reached out to them by giving them a free service (sponsorship, apps) and made sure it was supported by aggressive promotion. Large companies will need to follow Michelob’s lead and communicate with consumers if they hope to retain their market share. If they do connect with customers, in my opinion, they will be very successful for a long time.