Marketing Study: What do 5 year olds look for in a beer label?

We are sure beer companies will benefit from our recent rigorous marketing study into the subtle and not-so-subtle beer label preferences of a 5 year old. Although the big European and North American beer companies mostly use mostly text on their labels, many of the smaller American microbreweries’ labels are full of colorful, cartoon-y mascots. Are they successfully appealing to the younger demographic? Brace yourself for our in-depth results:

Which bird do you prefer?

Given the choice between New Holland’s, The Poet Oatmeal Stout and Goose Island’s Summertime Kölsch, The Poet won handily. The reason, however, may come as a surprise: “I like sleeping, so I like the dark nighttime one,” our subject CC informed us. The moral for beer companies: cover your labels with icons of slumber. We suggest the moon, dark skies, stars, sleeping babies, the sandman, and, of course, ravens.

Which madman do you prefer?

Which madman do you prefer?

The next slide in the survey portrayed three madmen: Arcadia’s Coco Loco, New Holland’s Mad Hatter, and Tommyknocker’s Maple Nut Brown Ale. I myself was so enticed by Tommyknocker’s label that I picked up a single on the spot, despite the gross title. Tommyknocker’s strange little cartoon man with a hat was also CC’s favorite. What’s he doing? Why is he grinning? Our suggestion to advertisers: put scenes of strange small men doing strange things on your labels. It will attract both the young and old.

Which mode of transportation appeals to you?

We were pretty sure the third slide would be popular with our 5-year old male subject. Although he prefers trains and cars, any form of transportation is pretty much a hit. The airplanes won in this case, perhaps due to the bold, snazzy graphics. A better bet for advertisers would be Lightning McQueen.

Which dog do you prefer?

Which dog do you prefer?

Several companies seem to have decided dogs are good subject matter for beer labels. This includes the big boys: Anheuser-Busch’s Wild Blue and Hop Hound , and Miller’s Red Dog– as well as smaller breweries: Flying Dog’s In Heat Wheat. Anheuser-Busch and Miller usually go with text-focused corporate labels, so perhaps putting dogs on their labels is their attempt to appeal to the microbrew market. It also helps them reach out to 5-year olds, especially if the dogs are BLUE. In this slide, the color won out, and Wild Blue was CC’s favorite. A close second was Hop Hound because the frisbee makes it clear that that this dog is having the most fun. We recommend combining the two memes and featuring a blue dog playing with a frisbee. To cover all of your bases, make sure the dog is also driving a blue car. How quickly “Go, Dog. Go!” becomes “Chug, Dog. Chug!”…

Which outdoor scene makes you happiest?

Which outdoor scene makes you happiest?

Another common label graphic tactic is using the great outdoors to seduce buyers. We wanted to see if this had any effect on younger audiences who may not have yet have had first-hand experiences with the Sierra Mountain Range, Drooling Moose, or snow-covered pine trees. Nature’s majesty had little effect. Blue Moon is blue AND has nighttime imagery, so was the clear winner. However, the green tones of Sierra Nevada were also appealing.  A drooling moose just didn’t have context to a 5-year old, whose brief life is still without many truly adult experiences.

Which woman do you prefer?

The most classic advertising tactic when targeting adults is sex appeal. So, what kind of woman is a 5-year old drawn to? The 1980’s MTV-esque woman on the Magic Hat sampler? The classic portrait on Founder’s Porter? Or the busty, Bavarian,  beer-toting babe on St. Pauli’s N.A.? CC liked the dancing Magic Hat lady the best because “she is holding a beer and going ‘Oh yeah!'” We pointed out that the St. Pauli gal was holding 6 beers AND had a green background. The hard partying attitude of the Magic Hat lady still won out. It turns out that to a 5-year old, a hard-partying attitude is more important than bra cup size, beer cup size, or the color green.

Which is your favorite? Pt. 1

Which is your favorite? Pt. 2

In the next two slides, we wanted to see if a 5-year old has any preferences based on country of (beer) origin. His first choices on each slide were Heiniken and Amstel Light. His second choices on each slide were Negra Modelo and Corona respectively. We have no idea why he feels so strongly about Dutch and Mexican beers. He neglected the blue labels in both slides, so there must be some really compelling nationalistic brain-washing going on at CC’s preschool. Or perhaps Dutch beers are just that good.

Which bizzare label most appeals to you?

Which bizzare label most appeals to you?

Four misfit labels were pictured in the last slide, Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale, Great Lakes’ Burning River, Woodchuck Cider, and Anheuser-Busch’s Shock Top. CC was not even remotely amused by the orange slice with the Mohawk made of wheat. The nighttime scene of a city burning was his choice from this slide. Nighttime mixed with destruction has an irresistible pull, which only intensifies after a few drinks. “Woodchuck” gets filed away with “Moose” in the dustbin of history.

Legislation forced the retirement of Joe the Camel, but no beer label has yet been brought to court. Some brands we expect to hit the shelves soon: Dora the Explorer Double IPA, Thomas the Tank Engine Trippel, Blue’s Clues Red Ale, Goodnight Moon Chocolate Stout, Oscar the Grouch PAIL Ale, and Dance Dance Drop Your Pants Barley Wine.


~ by nininja on June 2, 2010.

3 Responses to “Marketing Study: What do 5 year olds look for in a beer label?”

  1. We are so excited to see the experiment mounted for display! Oddly, “CC” disavows any claims made during this experiment. CC does not want to look at these pictures now and does not want to elaborate. Not sure why. Labelmakers *should* devise neon+pastel scenarios of fiery auto crashes if they want to capture the 5-year-old demo.

    A cold can of kodomo no nomimono for the experimenters!

  2. I enjoyed this 1 subject study, who obviously is a very decisive person. You chose your subject well. Maybe he/she will design a label next. Thanks for the fun. Dogs, blue and night, who could have guessed all this complexity from a 5 yr old.

  3. Liz is right. It’s time for some kid-created beer labels. Yes it took 272 days for this to sink in. We’ve all been busy.

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