What everyone will remember most about “Super Bore LIII” is not the game or the ads but the post-game tit for tat between Big Beer brands Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) and MillerCoors (MC).


In Case The Game’s Dullness Induced You Into A Media-Blocking Stupor . . .

Here’s what happened: ABI aired three Super Bowl ads blasting MC for using corn syrup; MC fired back with a full-page ad in The New York Times; social media antics ensued. Yes, we’re impressed with these fast-paced responses, which reveal omnichannel, agile marketing chops rare for big companies. Dilly Dilly, indeed.

But Hold Your Huge Rolling Barrel Of Corn Syrup

The marketer’s takeaway from this exchange is not how to be responsive, as noble as that is. ABI and MC are engaged in a very expensive fiddle competition while Milwaukee burns. As these two brands use company resources to drive hard-to-measure “earned media,” they could be hyperfocused on their consumers. 2017 US beer sales were flat, while craft beers grew 5%. Consumer tastes are changing, and Big Beer is not keeping pace — so US consumers are opening their own breweries, 7,000 of them, up 20% year over year.

This Isn’t Just A Beer Story

Across categories, consumers are trialing brands for higher quality, convenience, localism, values, and experience. Not finding what they want, VC-backed entrepreneurs are stepping in with digital-centric startups to disrupt categories from razorblades to mattresses, often by selling directly to consumers.

Pundits lump this whole trend into the buzzy term “DTC”, but the deceptive moniker as used today emphasizes the “D” over the “C.” But it’s not the direct sell in and of itself that makes consumers trial these new brands. Questions of channel are critical and complicated and need to be considered in the context of consumers’ changing needs, pain points, and expectations. The risk: You just push the same old stuff in a new channel and are surprised when business value doesn’t follow. Our beer example wouldn’t qualify as “DTC” for many, but its roots are the same: increasingly empowered consumers.

We’ve Got You Covered

Forrester will share bespoke research on this game-changing trend and what to do about it in April, but Forrester clients with brands facing similar challenges can book an inquiry with Jim Nail, Anjali Lai, and Ryan Skinner immediately. Cheers to that.