CHICAGO: Heineken, the brewer, is leveraging an "occasion-based approach" as it seeks to reach consumers with communications relevant for various different drinking moments.

Shawn Fitzgerald, Heineken's director/shopper intelligence, discussed this subject at the Advertising Research Foundation's (ARF) Shopper Insights Forum in Chicago.

"One of the great things about the alcoholic drinks category – and beer in particular – is that it's very occasion-driven," he said. (For more, including details of its research into consumer experiences, read Warc's exclusive report Heineken brews an insight for every occasion.)

"So when people are shopping for the category, they are thinking about the occasion: who is going to be there? What do I want the product to deliver? And the choices of what they buy, where they shop and how they shop are all driven by that."

A major priority for Heineken in the recent past has been engaging young, upscale consumers with a passion for parties and unique nightlife experiences.

"It very much has been focused on that one-third part of the occasion chart, which is really about high-energy, parties, special occasions [and] very image-conscious," Fitzgerald said.

"The reality is that two-thirds of the volume sits in those more regular, everyday occasions that we were not really focusing on."

Examples of the moments falling under this rubric include having a beer with dinner, winding down with a brew at home after work and more casual get-togethers.

"The way you shop for this [casual gathering] or meals is very different than the way you shop for a party," Fitzgerald said.

"So what brands you have in your consideration set [and] where you go to shop is very different. How you are going to spend, or are willing to spend, is very different."

Zeroing in the touchpoints and messages of greatest importance on these differing occasions is therefore helping Heineken finesse its marketing.

"Keeping it simple, keeping it intuitive so that people can relate to it, and making it actionable is really what it's all about. So we purposely try to keep everything simple. And the occasions really have allowed us to," said Fitzgerald.

Data sourced from Warc