Mexican beer brand Modelo Especial has enjoyed continuous growth in the US for over 30 years, thanks predominantly to its deeply loyal Hispanic customer base. But up until very recently, there was little to no brand awareness outside of that target group. Senior Brand Manager Raul Ruiz talks us through the steps Modelo took to reach the general North American market without alienating their loyal customers.
- Identify your opportunity
“Our vision is to become a Top Five beer brand,” he explains, “and in order to achieve that we have to expand our consumer target.” And the timing couldn’t be better; Ruiz points to the increasing “Latinization” of mainstream culture, including TV and music, as a sure-fire sign that general consumers have a hunger for Hispanic influences.
This is especially true of passion points like food and drink. “You no longer have to go to a Mexican restaurant to have Latin-infused meals or cocktails,” he says. “There is a natural inclination for the Modelo brand to start engaging with the non-Latino consumer… This is a ripe moment for us.”
- Start at the beginning of your story
Although Modelo had been present in the States for years, and were the number two imported beer brand, they soon found that when it came to starting a conversation with this new demographic, they had to start at square one. That meant launching a national TV advertising campaign — their first outside of Spanish-language networks.
Modelo then teamed up with Ogilvy and Tumblr to develop a digital architecture, encompassing a brand website and social channels, to continue the conversation online. “We decided what we wanted to talk about; heritage and authenticity,” says Ruiz. “Our way in to connect with these general market consumers was to embrace our Mexican roots, to start with chapter one of our story.”
- Stay true to your brand
The theme of heritage enabled Modelo to start conversations around traditional holidays like Día de Muertos. Unlike Cinqo de Mayo, which has become a popular taco-and-margarita holiday in the US, Ruiz comments that consumers knew very little about culture or history of the Day of the Dead. “As a brand, we have an obligation to help educate non-Latinos on Mexican culture,” he says.
The response from existing Latin customers has also been overwhelmingly positive, due to this focus on authenticity. “Not many Mexican or Latino brands have made it big in the US… They see Modelo as ‘their’ brand, and they like being able to share this with general consumers,” says Ruiz. “It’s a celebration of Mexican provenance.”