White Claw Decreased Ad Spend by 30% in 2019 as Brand Surges
The hard sparkling beverage category has been growing at a sizeable pace over the last year, and no brand has been more at the forefront of this trend than White Claw, which has seemingly become so popular that the brand has been unable to keep up with demand, per an announced supply shortage in September.
According Kantar estimates, hard sparkling beverages, hard ciders and other ‘malternative’ brands spent $77.3 million on advertising from January through July this year, a 21% increase over the same period in 2018.
However, while spend in the category increased substantially, Kantar found that White Claw actually decreased its ad spend by 30% in 2019. In fact, Kantar data shows that White Claw was the top spender in the category in the first seven months of 2018, with $16 million in ad expenditure, but dropped to third in 2019 with $11.1 million in spend, behind Corona Refresca ($13.8 million) and Angry Orchard ($11.5 million).
A decrease in ad spend alone would not be so remarkable except for the fact that White Claw has ascended to household name status this year, even being dubbed "the winning beverage" of the summer by one major media outlet.
One simple explanation for this phenomenon is that White Claw simply may not need to invest as much in advertising because it has already caught on with consumers, who have likely contributed to the brand’s remarkable growth through the creation and sharing of DIY online memes and other fan-generated content.
Another possible explanation is White Claw’s inclusive marketing strategy.
While the alcoholic beverage industry is traditionally known for targeting strictly defined demographic groups—beer brands advertise to young men while lighter alternatives (wine coolers, Zima) have been promoted to young women—White Claw stands out by marketing to both sexes, as evidenced by the TV programs where it ran its ads.
According to Kantar data, White Claw spent the most, an estimated $715,000, sponsoring Keeping Up with the Kardashians, a show mostly popular with women, followed by Sports Center ($510,000), which is predominantly viewed by men. Other examples of the brand’s dichotomy in TV sponsorships include The Real Housewives series, NASCAR and NHRA drag racing, Snapped and Cops.
White Claw TV commercials, featuring beautiful young men and women plunging into the ocean.
And though White Claw’s choice of TV sponsorships, and the content of its commercials (see graphic above), suggest a preference for a younger adult audience, the brand does not appear to be wholly focused on this age demographic. For example, Kantar estimates White Claw spent $489,000 on ads running during the MTV user-generated video clip show Ridiculousness, which is aimed at a younger crowd, while also spending $88,000 on commercials running during U.S. Open Golf programming, whose largest viewer demographic is 50-64 years old.
Examining media, Kantar data shows the vast majority of advertising spend in the category, 75%, was dedicated to cable television, followed by 10% going to network television commercials and a little more than 4% spent on outdoor advertising. White Claw both followed and bucked the trend, spending 91% of its advertising on cable television, 6% on magazines and 2% on spot television.