Product Positioning — May I Please Have A Hard Seltzer?

Somewhere in the dark recesses of your mind is a thought trying to break its way into your consciousness — it is repeating a mantra: Product, Price, Placement, Promotion — maybe joined by: Positioning, People, Packaging. A lot of P’s.

Image it like a Gregorian Chant coming at you like a throbbing headache.

Do you recognize the basics of marketing? Yes you do.








Could there be some overlap in these subjects? Sure, but work with me on this.

Today, we talk about the positioning of a relatively new product — hard seltzer.

Hard seltzer is an emerging product with $295MM in sales last year. It is not yet an important slice of the beer, wine, and spirits market, but it suggests, and illuminates an interesting phenomenon.

You have to position your product for the audience you want to attract and appeal to. Getting out in front of the competition in an emerging market is always a big of all right, no?

Can we get specific here, Big Red Car?

Fine, let’s get specific, shall we?

Constellation Brands (formerly Canandaigua Industries near lovely Canandaigua Lake in upstate New York where I have been boating and fishing) is a Fortune 500 international producer and marketer of beer, wine, and spirits.

We’re looking at 40 production facilities, 9,000 employees, and more than 100 brands. My favorite is Corona Beer in the US.

They recently dropped $4B to acquire 38% of Canopy Growth Corporation — pot company. Their $4B investment is down in value — up in smoke? — more than $1B in the last year, but it’s early.

These guys are not afraid to get out on that limb and can write the big check. If they decide to do something, they will do it. Big time.

So, these adventurers saw some growth in the fizzy water, flavor infused, alcohol added business. Hard seltzer has become a $300MM business in a couple of years.

So, Constellation decided to get in with a product they are calling Corona Hard Seltzer intended to entice your nose with mango, cherry, blackberry lime, and tropical lime flavors.

It is going to take Constellation until spring of 2020 to get this new product line to market. In the meantime, they are learning from White Claw.

White Claw is the brand that started the fire.

What, Big Red Car?

OK, dear reader, here’s the thing.

Constellation is going to position their Corona Hard Seltzer as an “upscale” product. This is called “strategic positioning” by the Constellation team. They fancy themselves good at it and that they have learned a few things by running more than a hundred brands.

Today, Constellation thinks that White Claw is a “cheap drunk,” something that belongs at a bachelorette party because it won’t leave a stain when you barf, you can buy a lot of it for a little money, and you can get a nice bachelorette buzz on in the process.

Constellation sees itself as a higher end product — they will drive that perception through their marketing — that will command a higher price. It will become a “more expensive drunk.”

Constellation sees their Corona Hard Seltzer sitting on the beach under a fancy umbrella in the Turks & Caicos.

Is there any difference, Big Red Car?

Shh, no. There isn’t any real difference. That’s why those guys in marketing make so damn much money. They’re going to create one.

Take a look at the two pictures. Love the White Claw wave. Aren’t they, essentially, the exact same product?

Constellation will say it has higher quality packaging. You agree?

Inside that product, you have water, flavor, and alcohol. Nothing much else.

Clearly, Constellation is expanding the Corona brand (extending their brand equity for those scoring at home), as they think it is already appropriately positioned to support the notion that Corona Hard Seltzer is higher up the food totem pole.

[Not sure I agree with that, but I am more of a cider drinker these days. Talk about some product positioning, eh? Of course, most ciders are not mass market products. This is a mass market product.]

Who could ever forget the “Step-by-Step Guide to Breaking Up with Your Crazy Girlfriend”? That beach and those perfect exemplars of the feminine species are decidedly upscale. Turks & Caicos vibe hitting you?

Bottom line it, Big Red Car

Even when the product is exactly identical, the smart CEO/marketer can position the company’s product to appeal to a different segment of the market.

That positioning justifies a superior price. See how easy that was? See, you have that gear. Turks & Caicos!

Does it work for Constellation and their Corona Hard Seltzer? Stay tuned.

Get ready for lots of upscale Corona Hard Seltzer ads like their beer commercials.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Drink some cider this weekend. Call an old pal. And, damn it, call your parents.

This would be so much better with a nice, cold Corona Hard Seltzer, no?