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ATLANTA--Coors Brewing Co. is moving on several fronts to make gains among African-American consumers.

Market research and event marketing are slated to play major roles in this effort.

To discover who in the African-American community to target, Coors was one of the sponsors of the 1995 Alcoholic Beverage Usage Study from Oaklyn, N.J.-based Wellington Group's On-Going Mobile Access Research program.

Results of that study and companion research on media usage were presented here at the recent Marketing Opportunities in Black Entertainment symposium. From November 1994 to January '95, researchers surveyed 4,800 male and female respondents in 27 metropolitan areas who had consumed an alcoholic beverage within the past two weeks. Among those surveyed, 3,600 were African-American and 1,200 general market, drawn from whites and other ethnic groups; ages ranged from 21 to 64 years old.

Study results confirmed the industry trend of dropping usage during the past 10 years, but also delved into specific product preferences. Among beer-related results: 32% of African-Americans surveyed had consumed regular beer in the past two weeks vs. 34% in the general market; 8% had consumed light beer vs. 13% in the general market; and 15% had consumed malt liquor vs. 5% in the general market.

Sports marketing is one arena Coors is concentrating on to target African-Americans, Ivan W. Burwell, national program manager, told the symposium.

"We believe that event or sports marketing is a way to attract African-American consumers since it helps us break out of the clutter and establish value," Mr. Burwell said. "We also believe in relationship marketing. It is our goal to own a market, which is a process, not a tactic. . . .

"Sponsoring an event also enhances our corporate and brand image as well as motivates employees."

Mr. Burwell noted that the Coors Lite Orlando Football Classic attracted males 21 to 34 years old.

"Sports are important to this group," he said. "For the event, we had promotional programs that included radio, retail, point of sale and public relations. Due to a relationship with [Black Entertainment Television], we brought in Disney as a partner and performed on [Walt Disney World's] Pleasure Island."

Coors is so bullish about sports/event marketing that Mr. Burwell announced the brewer plans to be the title sponsor of the U.S. Grass-roots League, an entertainment basketball league that will be tested in Atlanta and New York in mid-July.

"We are looking at a syndicated source, and we will hold coed tryouts in Atlanta and New York," he said. "If successful, we will add other cities such as Chicago and L.A. We plan to find street players who will wear microphones while they play."

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