Influencer led launch continues push to broaden beer's appeal

Asahi has continued its push to broaden beer’s appeal to non-traditional audiences launching a new beer in collaboration with influencer Abbie Chatfield.

Spill, a “crisp and refreshing” “lowkey lager”, was released this week through the Coles liquor chain and unashamedly targets a female market, with a media release noting it seeks to challenge “outdated clichés of the ‘typical’ beer drinker”.

“If you don’t like drinking beer, you’re drinking the wrong beer,” Chatfield said in a media release.

“I know that the thought of me starting a beer may seem left of field to some, but anyone who knows me knows that beer is always my go-to drink.”

“Spill is the perfect encapsulation of my ideal beer. Being an easy-going lager, there’s a perfect lightness to Spill, while still being a classic beer that I know everyone can enjoy – even those who are traditionally steering clear of ordering a beer with dinner.”

A video on Chatfield’s Instagram page launching the beer shows a hi vis-clad ‘tradie’ reaching for a can of Spill in an ice-filled Esky with a male voice-over declaring “That’s my kind of beer”.

The video then reveals Chatfield as the beer drinker, telling the camera, “Yeah, it’s also my kind of beer”.

The partnership comes as Chatfield has also launched an inclusive fashion line with sizing going to size 26.

Unlike many similar attempted partnerships, Chatfield would appear to actually be a beer drinker with a history of posting about beer and being photographed drinking beer which predates her partnership with CUB.

The partnership follows CUB’s September release of Fruity Beer, a beer the company described as “ultra-low bitterness and subtle maltiness” and a “fruity flavour stronger than anything you’d taste in a craft beer”.

“Historically, brewers helped create the stereotype that beer is a ‘blokey’ drink. But Fruity Beer, our new category of flavoured beer, will help transcend these traditional demographics and prove there’s a beer for every drinker,” CUB GM Marketing Nicole McMillan said at the time.

The Fruity Beer campaign featured influencer Emma Hawkins, a self-avowed non-beer drinker, to highlight her conversion to beer.

CUB’s focus on broadening beer’s appeal comes at a time when beer has been facing sustained declines in the face of greater competition from alternative categories and changing attitudes towards alcohol consumption.

In August, Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine noted the extent of the trend.

“Although beer did enjoy an increase in consumption during the last two years only 33.3% of Australian adults now drink beer in an average four weeks,” she said.

“The decline in beer drinking since 2005 has been more sustained than any other type of alcohol and the early signs are that the short-term pandemic impact on beer drinking has not been enough to halt the long-term trend.”

The influence of influencers

Chatfield, a former reality television personality, turned radio host and television panellist, has more than 437,000 Instagram followers. Her initial posts announcing the launch have generated in excess of 26,000 likes on her Instagram account, overwhelmingly from women.

Amongst the comments the posts have generated are many along the lines of “Never been a beer drinker but I am now,” “I don’t even like beer but i’ll try this” and “this is gonna be my signature summer drink,” which would appear to confirm CUB’s choice of partner.

However, the brand’s focus on the ‘better for you’ messaging around calories and carbohydrates has also rankled with some of her followers, believing it to conflict with Chatfield’s body positivity message.

“Genuinely love what you do on so many levels but the emphasis on the calories and the ‘VERY’ low carbs is a miss for me,” said one commenter with the sentiment echoed by others.

Another noted, “interesting choice to align with a diet beer and use terms like “very low carb” and “calamities” when you’ve been critical of toxic diet culture many times before.”

Chatfield appeared to agree with the sentiments, replying that she wanted to change the focus of the branding.

“TOTALLY agree. There are so many people involved in the making of this beer, and that part of the packaging was NOT approved by me,” she noted.

“We have lots of people and teams working. I already have flagged it with the team who made the packaging, and it’s not going to be on the next drop.

“Like I said, I never approved this to be a “selling point” as I do it want to add to diet culture and to me it is irrelevant.

“Calorie labelling needs to be on the back as a nutritional thing but I never ever approved it as a marketing scheme. This was a result of rushed packaging that didn’t go through the approval process from me. So, yes, agree and I’m already changing it!!!!”

The biggest influencer?

CUB’s launch of the beer into the emerging ‘better for you’ beer category confirms the influence that last year’s launch of Better Beer has had on the mainstream beer market.

Launched in October last year, Better Beer sold more than 4.3 million litres in the seven months following its launch. Part-owner Mighty Craft has forecast sales of up to 10 million litres in the year ahead, with a release in New Zealand and the United Kingdom planned.

Created by social media entertainers The Inspired Unemployed and distributed through Endeavour Groups Dan Murphy’s and BWS stores, the beer has inspired ‘us also’ versions including the recent launch of Travla, by Australian actor and star of the Vikings series Travis Fimmel and chef and Masterchef Andy Allen.

The launch of Travla and now Spill in partnership with Coles’ liquor outlets also highlights the intense competition between the major retailers as Coles seeks to keep pace with Endeavour.

Although not openly chasing a more inclusive audience for its products, Better Beer’s messaging and celebrity creators appear to organically appeal to an increasingly hard-to-reach market for traditional beer. While consumer sales data is unavailable, Brews News understands that Better Beer’s social media following skews towards a younger and more gender-balanced audience than mainstream beer.

Data seen by Brews News indicates 75 per cent of Better Beer’s social media audience is under 35, with a 60/40 male-female split. This audience is distinct from The Inspired Unemployed’s own account.

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