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Imagine a sunny summer weekend in a typical American town. A grill with burgers and dogs is sizzling, as cold sodas and beers sit in the family cooler. Kids are playing in the perfectly green lawn as friends and neighbors congregate on the porch or in the shade. This is the dreamy American summer weekend cookout.
Now imagine all the brand names in this dream. Everyone has a favorite beer, hotdog, and grill. The grass is fertilized by the go-to brand at the local hardware store. The dream American summer day is priceless real estate for consumable goods producers and their marketing partners.
There are 324 million people in this country, and on the fourth of July weekend alone, Americans spend $389MM on chicken, $388MM on ground beef, $1.114B on soft drinks, and, unsurprisingly, will purchase over 60MM cases of beer. One brand taking its place over another in the ideal summer day is the result of tremendous advertising effort, especially in terms of demographic targeting.
The ideal American summer day brand preference varies by generations, but the demographics prove far more complex. Let’s look at the three Bs of the summer cookout: Burgers, Barbecue, and Beverages. There are unique geographic, demographic, and generational variations in brand preference, so understanding where and how to market to these deviations is key to maximizing exposure to the target audience.
Burgers: Hamburgers are a staple in the quintessential American cookout. More often than not, they are advertised according to geographical preferences, despite the beef industry being fairly national rather than local. The veggie burger has also come on the rise, specifically in urban areas. In the end, burger advertisers need to meet the right audience. High-end meat needs to meet matching areas of income. Veggie burgers need to meet urban customers across modern media, including mobile and digital. Classic burgers need to hit more traditional markets, and consumers, across television and/or print.
Barbecue: It would be impossible to have a cookout without the grill, and selling the right grill and accessories requires big brand power for both propane and charcoal grills alike. Weber is the king of grills, just like Kingsford or Duraflame are staple names in the charcoal market, both equally a part of the American grill tradition. Again, there are generational, geographic, and social differences in the grilling platform of choice. These need to be marketed to accordingly, and appeal to various consumer buzzwords.
Beverages: Obviously, there is an immediate age breakdown for beverages, to be or not to be 21. For the beer industry, there are several ways to market your brand, again along the various demographic lines and ever expanding preferences. Beer in the summer can be representative of any number of summer experiences, from refreshment and cooling down to having fun and enjoying a day at the beach. Some beers take different routes in their ad campaigns. This summer, Anheuser-Busch InBev has changed the label of its Budweiser Lager to “America” for this election season, in an effort to cement itself as the staple American beer, hitting the idealistic, patriotic, American cookout mentality. A tidal wave of images associated with cookouts and summertime in television ad space imprint the national memory. Similarly, soft drink brands like Pepsi and Coca-Cola follow the same television campaign style. Notions of refreshment, companionship, and good times are enjoyed by Gen-Z and Boomers alike.
Every single person living in the United States has their own vision of the ideal cookout or barbecue. What doesn’t change is that brand names follow those visions in lock step, matching and influencing desires. For companies to find their spot in the idealizations of American families, targeted media inventory from every medium must be taken advantage of. Geographic and demographic variations determine preferences, so companies must be able to find targeted marketing companies capable of delivering the right audience to provide maximum exposure, and maximum revenue.
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