The future may be looking even darker than expected for America’s “Big Three” beer brands, as a new report finds that monthly Google searches for Budweiser, Miller and Coors fall shockingly far below searches for even relatively obscure brands. This includes the practically unknown Puppers Premium Lager, only available in Ontario and based on a Canadian TV series distributed by Hulu. Of the three landmark domestic lagers, Bud ranks last with 5400 searches per month. Miller receives the most, with 8100, and Coors comes in the middle with 6600. Puppers boasts 14,800.
Online data provider SEMrush, which reviewed the number of monthly searches over the past three years, ranks Coors brainchild Blue Moon as the top domestic brand, with 40,500 searches. Legacy regionals Ranier Beer (now owned by Pabst Brewing) and Hamm’s (now owned by Molson Beverage) also made SEMrush’s top 12 list, as did craft brands Yuengling, Samuel Adams and Firestone Walker 805 blonde ale.
But the true winners, as reported here Wednesday, are Mexican imports. Corona tops the list with 49,500, followed by #3 Modelo and #12 Pacifico. Irish staple Guinness also makes the list, as does Japan’s Sapporo.
“Google searches are representative of an individual’s pure curiosity and desire to learn about something. When analyzed at-a-glance these trends can predict consumer interest, which then translates into action and behavior,” says SEMrush Head of Communications Fernando Angulo.
It’s widely reported that sales of domestic premium brands continue to slide precipitously but studies like this could lead their marketing teams to change course on their online strategies.
“Any company can check their brand’s search trend against its competitors to see their strengths and weaknesses which ultimately will help improve online visibility,” says Angulo. “From major increases to dramatic declines, when compared with marketing or PR efforts at this particular moment, can offer insights into correlations between spend and search performance spikes or decreases.”
With what Angulo calls a “massive” 74,000 searches per month, the term “craft beer” performed better than any one brand. Not surprisingly, “non-alcohol beer” performed better than that, with 90,000 monthly searches, though what seems strange is the equal number of searches (90,000) for “ginger beer.”
“The spikes in search trends can show both seasonality as well as critical moments of success,” says Angulo about the overall research. What’s puzzling, however, is that while drinks made with ginger beer, namely the Moscow Mule and the Dark n’ Stormy, have shot up in popularity the past few years, ginger beer itself doesn’t make much noise in the marketplace. However, one might argue that ginger beer, which sometimes contains alcohol and sometimes doesn’t, causes enough confusion to warrant further exploration online.
On the spirits side, searches for “Scotch whisky” have grown 105% over the three years in question, leading the growth trajectories for all other whiskies. That said, both Irish whiskey and Japanese whisky, respectively, beat the Scots, and Jameson Irish whiskey receives more searches than any other brand, followed distantly by #2 Fireball Cinnamon Whisky. MMA fighter and Irishman Conor McGregor’s Proper 12 whiskey trails at third with just half the searches of Fireball, while the highly acclaimed Blanton’s, by Buffalo Trace, shows up as the first bourbon, in fourth place.
That said, “bourbon” received 165,000 average monthly searches, compared to just 5,775 for “American whiskey.”
“Considering ‘bourbon’ is searched more often than all other [country + whiskey] searches, we decided to dig deeper and found another popular search term is ‘Bourbon a whiskey,’ with over 70,000 average monthly online searches,” emails Angulo. “This suggests the public is interested in understanding the difference between the Scottish and American drinks.”
Despite outselling all other American whiskey brands, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey ranks a mere sixth on the list, and Game of Thrones whisky, whose ninth and final expression came out of Scotland in December, rounds out the top ten.
To avoid confusion, search terms for beer brands only targeted the name plus the word “beer,” i.e. “Miller beer” instead of simply “Miller.”