My eldest daughter and I are currently into the Arctic Monkeys. To use the innovation curve so often misquoted in the press, you can hardly call us ‘innovators’ – well, to be fair, you can hardly call me an innovator. It’s ‘Laggards’ all the way in the Tinted House*. ‘Bardus et prout’ (‘Backwards and Proud‘) is our humble yet forward-thinking family motto. In my defence though, I bought the album at the time of the initial hype but was also aware that she was 5 and there was one of those pearlescent ‘Parental Advisory Lyrics’ stickers on the front. I still have to turn the volume down at the right moment on ‘Fake Tales of San Francisco’, otherwise I will find myself in a tight corner where I need to explain both fornication and self pleasure to her on the way to Stagecoach. Mum’s job I reckon.
But anyway – the rather tenuous link here is about the bandwagon – ‘Get off the bandwagon and put down the handbook’ Alex wails nasally in his Sheffield twang in the aforementioned ditty – and a link to last week’s ‘Radler’ piece. It’s nice to watch a bandwagon being jumped on in the moment – let’s call it Bandwagon Live!
Last Summer, in the fresh and shiny New Shandy category, Carling Zest was born; last week, I reported on the Heineken following suit with Bruce, Sheila und Gunter’s ‘Foster’s Radler’, whilst framing the opportunity positively as the ‘mid strength moderation’ segment. And just like the proverbial buses, here comes Carlsberg Citrus, a 2.8% citrus beer. Whilst Paddy Power are taking money on the next Pope, just round the corner Betfred are offering good odds on Stella Limon (‘that’s Li-mon not Le-mon’) and even Greene King are odds on for Greene King IPA Light with Lemongrass.
You can’t criticise the Danes here – Anheuser Busch were first to market in the US with Bud Light Lime four or so years ago to amazing success, and many others in many markets have followed suit. It’s all a sobering (possibly, literally) reminder of the importance of really understanding what drinkers want. Us beery bloggers have a tendency to self-pleasure ourselves on all the interesting craft, cask, funky bottle stuff and often typecast the world in our own image; typically only noticing what we want to see***. Yet over there in the other real world, people are interested in lower strength, flavoured beers and don’t seem too bothered if it comes out of a mega factory.
It’s all fine by me, if beer is the winner, that’s a good thing. But I’m left scratching my head, wondering if genuine innovation is finally dead.
* Everitt Rogers, brother of Buck, was a sociology Professor who has helped marketeers and business people for over 50 years with his book, Diffusion of Innovations. In it, he postulated** five stages, with innovators who are all feisty, cool and leading the way, early adopters who pretend to be and then at the far end, the Laggards who couldn’t give a Monkeys but just couldn’t refuse that bargain at Comet when it went into administration.
** Titter ye not.
*** Something called Inattentional Blindness. Look who swallowed a textbook.
© Beer Tinted Spectacles, 2013