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238: Beyond Beer at Anheuser-Busch with Lana Buchanan

Lana Buchanan, VP Marketing Beyond Beer at Anheuser-Busch

On this 238th episode of “Marketing Today,” host Alan Hart speaks with Lana Buchanan, vice president of marketing for Beyond Beer at Anheuser-Busch. Buchanan oversees the marketing for everything that does not fall in the category of beer and, as such, has a massive portfolio full of product categories that require different marketing approaches!

We start our conversation with Buchanan’s background in the alcohol industry and the horror story that forced her to become an expert cocktail creator. Then Buchanan discusses what it’s like working with such an extensive portfolio of products and why she loves it. “With every different category, I get to think differently in terms of the consumer,” Buchanan says.

At Beyond Beer, all the separate teams have the same goal, “create an innovation that really fits the needs and the wants of the consumer in the different moments.” Buchanan then breaks down different marketing techniques that help them connect with consumers on an emotional level, because at the end of the day, “the most powerful brands are the ones that make you feel something.”

We then discuss how Buchanan’s time working on Bon Viv and her experience from traveling Europe after college helped her learn how to pivot with the changes in front of her. Lastly, Buchanan dives into the BLM movement and the importance of changing your marketing strategies with the world’s continually shifting landscape. “If you don’t evolve with the consumer, you’re going to get left behind!”

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • Lana bought a puppy during the pandemic. 1:33
  • During her time at Campari, Lana was forced to learn how to create a smattering of classic cocktails. 2:15
  • Lana currently handles everything that is not in the category of beer at Anheuser-Busch. 4:30
  • With so many categories, Lana chooses to take a consumer-first approach when handling her extensive portfolio. 5:33
  • Between categories, there are similar marketing frameworks that are used, each having its subtle differences. 6:49
  • Innovation goes beyond just the business opportunities in growing categories, and Lana must find out what factors are driving that growth. 8:28
  • Each team keeps a vision board that includes both the short and long-term goals. 10:10
  • Through small-market tests, each team does their best to see if they can connect to the consumer. 10:38
  • Small tests are still brewed in the full tanks but are strictly tested in very small regions for months at a time. 11:34
  • Next year, on top of launching big campaigns, Lana’s team will be conducting 4 or 5 small tests. 12:22
  • When it comes to marketing alcohol, connecting with the consumer at an emotional level is an incredibly important goal. 14:00
  • Knowing your target and what they want is one of the most powerful things a marketer can have. 15:42
  • Wherever a drink lies on the spectrum, they all have the same goal of connecting with the consumer. 16:32
  • Social Club is one of the projects that Lana is most proud of because it challenged the standards that have been created in its category. 17:14
  • The business dynamics have already changed 4 or 5 times this year alone because of the pandemic. 19:35
  • During her time at Bon Viv, Lana learned how to pivot a marketing plan to connect with what’s important at present. 20:20
  • With a safety-first mindset, traditional sampling has been adjusted so that consumers can have the experience. 22:41
  • Don’t be afraid to pivot when something doesn’t feel right. 23:52
  • After graduation, Lana decided to pass up on multiple job prospects to travel around Europe and get closer to her Russian background. 24:57
  • Lana looks back and wishes she had stopped to celebrate the wins more. 26:34
  • Lana recognizes the importance of the BLM movement and works to implement change in her team. 29:37
  • Too many marketers and agencies are afraid to recognize the change in the world and refuse to evolve. 30:48

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