I drive an Audi. So what, you say, there are tons of them around. You're right, of course, but that wasn't always the case. And I know because this is the eighth Audi I've owned since the mid-80s. When I got my first one, Audi was an outsider brand. And while nobody ever asked me directly, "Why'd you buy THAT?" I just knew in my head that's exactly what people were thinking. Fortunately, also stuck in my head--and on a little badge on the back of the car-- was an answer: "quattro." Now, I was pretty much clueless about all the engineering intricacies of this feature, but I did know it meant I had two more wheels working than pretty much everyone else at the time. So if anybody ever did question my brand choice, I had the satisfaction of a ready and irrefutable retort. "Quattro." Boom.
Of course, the question in the headline up above is one very few guys have ever heard uttered from a nearby barstool as their beer was served up. Heck, it'd be close to a bar-fight taunt. But it's a question that whispers somewhere in the psyche whenever they order a beer, especially so in social situations. "Why are you drinking THAT?" Even if no one ever actually hears the question spoken, guys seem to need the confidence of an answer. The beer equivalent of "quattro."
I think this need for some sort of brand-selection security blanket born of a product-related fact has a special masculine dynamic. Not being a psychologist, I won't speculate on the deeper emotional needs of my brothers in this regard, but I'm pretty sure there's something to it. Guys need that return-fire "boom."
Over the years, beer brands have provided plenty of ammunition, featuring ready responses. They've spent heavily to emphasize a brand's processes ("real draft brewing"), their source ("imported from Canada"), what was in the beer ("Rocky Mountain Spring Water"), and what wasn't ("a third fewer calories"). These and other facts weren't relegated to small type on their labels, either. They were important brand equities dramatized in expensive television commercials year after year (apparently, repetition really helps guys pick stuff up). And they helped drive some mega-successes.
In strategic terms, these bits of factual information allowed drinkers to believe their brand was special. As has been mentioned here more than once, this is advertising's #1 job. It's no coincidence that nowadays every single craft beer is doing precisely the same thing: trumpeting its brewing process, or where it's brewed, or what's in the beer, or what isn't. Sometimes all of this. That's how committed the crafties are to accomplishing advertising's #1 job--and to becoming successful--even if their budgets are on the micro side.
Oddly, at least two big brands with decidedly macro budgets eschew strategic reference to any fact-based product distinction. See if you can find any mention of process, where the beer comes from, what's in the beer, or what's not in the beer--or any other fact at all about the beer--in either of these current commercials...
So, tell me again. Why am I....