The sunshine may be out, but beer sales are falling. Cost conscious consumers have tightened their belts and growth has been largely dependant on increasingly attractive deals.

So what has happened?

The inevitable really.

Beer prices became so low they were no longer sustainable. As such, prices rose and sales subsequently plummeted.

The response to this however, was entirely unexpected.

Executives from 5 of the UK’s biggest breweries called a truce and (for now at least) join forces and tackle the category-wide problem head on.

Let there be beer is a major, industry-funded campaign launched by AB InBev, Heineken, Carlsberg, Molsen Coors and SAB Miller. The campaign is due to run for at least 3 years and will no doubt incorporate a gamut of through the line efforts, designed to lure back the British public.

The sheer ambition of this unison is admirable. By combining budgets, the beer industry giants will have an opportunity to engage with the public on an entirely new level.

It all kicks off this Saturday with a major TV campaign with an advert scheduled this Saturday for the British Lions Vs Australia.

The ‘Let their be beer’ slogan will be beamed onto high profile buildings & locations (is it just me or is this becoming a tad passé now?)

Of course there will be plenty more marketing efforts through the usual channels and quite likely some heavyweight event sponsorship will feature at some point.

So all is well and good – the general public will likely be much more aware of beer in general. But what are we going to discover that we don’t already know? After all – attitudes towards drinking have changed over the years. Many of us are much more health conscious these days and realise that 10 pints of Stella Artois is not likely to assist our quest for that taught physique.

On the topic of health, Molson Coors MD Simon Cox admits that “its very much a theme of the campaign. One of the perceptions is that the industry promotes irresponsible drinking”

It will be interesting to see how they communicate the topic of health in their marketing efforts. As for responsible drinking, it will be a mighty accomplishment if they can pull off the biggest category marketing push ever, to drive volume sales and still come across as showing un-cynical concern for our wellbeings

If the beer industry is going to win us over, they will need to do a lot more than simply saturate the media and landscape with big slogans and heavyweight sponsorship.

Despite a fall in volume sales for the big breweries, many of the smaller, independent brewers have seen incredible growth the last few years as the public become more interested in unique or unusual tastes.

Over the last year Hobgoblin has seen volume sales grow 30.7%. Many other smaller breweries have also seen volume sales rise.

Paul Brazier, Diageo’s brand manager for Guiness Western Europe says that “consumers are probably cutting down on everyday products, leading to a revival of the ‘treat’ category”.

Many of the mass-producing breweries are now diversifying by adding new flavours to beers, and positioning themselves as innovative. But will these new tastes be enough to lure back the premium seekers who have long been used to the broad varieties on offer from the independents?

‘Let there be beer’ needs to do much more than simply spend big on advertising if they are to reverse their decline.

Creative, brand experience is an avenue Breweries are hopefully utilizing as part of their overall strategy. If consumers are becoming more health conscious, cost conscious and (premium) quality conscious, the ‘let there be beer’ marketing communications have their work cut out for them if the bulk of their efforts incorporate one-way communications.

Experiential marketing provides a platform for brands to talk to consumers in new ways and put a human face to their marketing efforts.

Smaller brands often benefit because consumers feel they are less ‘corporate’ and want to buy products that show their ‘individual’ credentials.

‘Let there be beer’ needs to engage with their target audience on this level. They need to demonstrate to he public that they are not simply a ‘lager’ brand but a brand has all of the aspirational qualities consumers want to associate with.

It will be interesting to see what they have planned over the next 3 years. It would be great to see some truly inspiring brand experiences in the mix as face to face engagement is still the most powerful marketing tool in the box.

Hotcow is a multi-award winning, Experiential Marketing agency that deliver 50% more ROI, than clients would receive from any other brand experience agency. We accomplish this through our ‘R.A.R.E Advantage’ platform. For more information about R.A.R.E and how it can transform your marketing impact, contact us.