Marketing slight of hand

In the 1980’s North American brewers began to do something very interesting. They started advertising the fact that they used 100% malt in their beers and zero adjunct. Now that sounds well and fine, expect for the fact that the had been doing this for a very long time. And also, that adjunct didn’t actually mean anything bad at all.

The term adjunct in brewing in simply a term for other types or substitutions of malt that have been used for centuries. Rice, wheat and corn are all adjuncts. It coincided with the explosion of micro breweries onto the brewing scene.

The marketers are a tricky bunch. Because of the simple way they phrased these new ad campaigns, the wording makes you think that adjuncts (a term previously unknown to consumers) are bad. What were adjunct using beer companies to do? Start advertising that adjuncts are ‘okay’?  That’s almost an admission of guilt.

It’s a very interesting nuance about the way consumers interpret new information. The marketers are explicitly advertising that they use “100% Malt”. That’s what, as consumers, we think they’re trying to convey. It’s hard to argue with, “I’m sure they can’t advertise ‘100%’ without actually using 100% malt”.
But we gloss over the implicit message; that 100% malt is good and that adjuncts are bad. If the marketers had explicitly said “adjuncts  in beer are bad and we don’t use them”, you as a consumer would question the ad more.

It marketing slight of hand – just like my blog was knocked off the #1 blog charts for being too real and edgy.


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