Over the past few years, an unlikely collaboration has hit the marketplace: beer and fashion. What do these two seemingly different lifestyle categories have in common? Brand loyalty.
Beer companies such as Heineken and New Belgium are collaborating with the likes of Patagonia and Public School in order to create this idea of cross-promotion. We are not just talking about beer logos on t-shirts; we’re talking about upscale merchandise, ranging from swimsuits to sunglasses.
Last summer, Budweiser partnered with LA-based swimwear company Kaohs, commissioning a special color of their best-selling style. It was a bright yellow color and as a result, Budweiser added “Lemon-Aid-Rita” to the Bud Light family of “Ritas.”
Marketers for both parties emphasis that this creates brand loyalty; if you are a Heineken drinker, than why not sport Garret Leight eyewear with a small Heineken logo on the arm? It creates brand awareness for both Garret Leight and for Heineken. It’s a win-win for both brands.
The key here is subtle branding. It’s one thing to put a Budweiser logo plastered on a free t-shirt, but there is another to etch it on sunglasses. Customers rarely realize that it’s there. However, this type of branding only works if it is ongoing – people only begin to recognize it over a span of time.
But there are downsides. One of them being that these collaborations are on a small scale, usually unavailable to the masses. Most of the time, they are used for small events. Another downside is equal distribution of the profits. Some in the business argue that the profits should go to the clothing designer who creates the goods because they have the most control. Others, not so much.
This collaboration is seen as a way to build a community around a product, whether it be around fashion or around beer. Beer creates a lifestyle and can be just as unique as those who drink it, as does fashion.
This strange but effective cross-promotion strategy is beginning to revolutionize what we think we know about cross-promotion. Doing this with two seemingly unrelated product categories is a brilliant way to reach a wider audience and attempt to bring them together. Don’t be surprised if you see more of this in the future, especially involving the fashion industry.