Don’t mix alcohol with coffee

What happens when you read an excellent marketing book? You feel like an expert and now have the urge to start preaching how things should be done. At least that’s what happened to me for a brief moment. So please take my word with a grain of salt as I do branding analysis of San Miguel.

When I hear San Miguel, I think beer. When I was in college, San Mig Light, the low-calorie version, was introduced. They shortened the name I guess to appeal to the young and ride the trend of short messaging in cellphones. Nowadays, when I want a drink, I order either “San Mig pale” or “San Mig light”.

That is why I don’t understand when the largest food conglomerate in South East Asia named its new instant coffee product San Mig Coffee. Even if they spend a lot of money telling people that San Mig Light is a beer and San Mig Coffee is a cofee it will only confuse the consumers and damage the San Mig name.

First, a disclaimer. I am not a marketing professional but I’ve read Al Ries and Jack Trout’s excellent book on market positioning to at least have an understanding what positioning is all about. You should read it, too.

To the people behind San Mig coffee your confusing me. When I saw your banners, I read “San Mig Cafe” and I thought your launching cafe’s all over the country. Ok, I probably did not read hard enough. But you see that is the point. I don’t have time to read hard enough or listen enough to any of your commercials because just the word San Mig makes me think of beers.

It is called positioning and that is the single most powerful marketing tool in the world.

Let me repeat that: San Mig = Beer.

I don’t think TV ads with Mr. Piolo Pascual on his sports bike with hot chicks would change what people think of San Mig. Even then, the ad is lame – you don’t equate hot chicks and big bikes with coffee.

Let me repeat that: San Mig = Beer.

Look at the Nescafe product. When I hear Nescafe, I can see the images of relaxed coffee-sipping individuals. I don’t drink much coffee but everytime I think of instant coffee, I think Nescafe. Their recent ad is very effective and timely – with gorgeous ladies playing under the rain. It is the rainy season and what’s the best drink to keep you warm? Coffee.

Let me repeat that: San Mig = Beer.
Let me repeat that: San Mig = Beer.
Let me repeat that: San Mig = Beer.

Can you see what is wrong with this picture?

Danding, can you see it? How about you?


14 thoughts on “Don’t mix alcohol with coffee

  1. I think SMC is out to give Nestle some competition, maybe as “punishment” for nearly killing the homegrown brand “Magnolia” which we now equate with chicken, rather than ice cream or milk, thanks to the calculated moves of erstwhile brand user Nestle to replace Magnolia with “Nestle” in our brand consciousness. I monitored how the “Magnolia” emblem got smaller and smaller on the ice cream packages until it disappeared altogether. Nestle Chuckie replaced Magnolia Chocolait, the choco milk of our childhood. The Swiss giant has the gall to come out with that nestle fresh milk ad showing an elderly woman badgering the merchandiser about placing the green nestle milk packs with another green-packed milk, saying “nestle fresh naman talaga ang gusto ko” or words to that effect. Anyone who buys freshmilk knows the other green-packed milk is Magnolia. I don’t know about elderly women who may have been out of the country for those years when Magnolia was the only fresh milk we knew. But I know that between Magnolia and Nestle fresh milk, I’ll take Magnolia anytime.

  2. in my opinion, some executives tend to lose their grip on these issues as long as the venture would rake in additional revenues. San Miguel is San miguel and it would always be associated with beers notwithstanding the fact that it has been that way for the last hundred years. the emergence of the coffee industry as a hot item nowadays makes it very palatable to the profit-oriented.

    just a thought, since we’re talking of mismatches, have anyone tried closeup’s ‘choco-loco’ toothpaste? my mom always told us that chocolates are bad for our teeth now suddenly a genius from P&G would want us to scrub our teeth and drench our breath with the very thing! well i guess i just have to take the word of lucky manzano that it do work.

  3. About this choco-loco close-up variant:

    I do agree with your comment, chard d. Choco and toothpaste images don’t mix. Just a little info: close-up is made by Unilever. P&G makes Crest, that brand that couldn’t make it against Colgate in the Philippines when it (Crest) was here in the 80’s.

  4. When we think of Nestle what comes to mind, nothing specific really, we know that Nestle=Food.

    I don’t think it will confuse consumers although the first thing that comes to mind when you say san mig or san miguel is definitely beer.

    If coffee and beer are consumed in the same place then that would be confusing. Say a beer house also serves San Mig coffee, that would be confusing.

    I think this is a calculated move, they want a big impact in the market fast that’s why they would use the San Mig brand.

    Well they have San Miguels in their brands beer=San Mig Light for gin=GSM, and for coffee=San Mig Coffee.

  5. “What happens when you read an excellent marketing book? You feel like an expert and now have the urge to start preaching how things should be done. At least that’s what happened to me for a brief moment. So please take my word with a grain of salt as I do branding analysis of San Miguel. ”

    hmmm… let’s just see how you’ll eat your words when San Mig Coffee takes over. 🙂

  6. Totally agree with you… Hate it when manufacturers try to sell us a product that is not within their area of expertise. Tried San Mig Coffee, the strong variant, i felt dizzy and my headached, A LOT… I dont know if its from the caffiene or what, point is, I’m a certified coffee addict and I like to drink lots of coffee, strong. I have the highest respect for San Miguel, they’ve been here for the longest time but I just dont trust their R&D. They produce the best beer (no scientists required and no nutritional value to calculate), but I highly doubt that they have the specialization to do coffee.

    Dont be easily fooled by marketing. Just because your favorite actor or actress endorsed it, always remember, they are paid to do it. I’d rather put my money on manufacturers that are known to spend their money more on R&D than advertising… you’ll never know what they put into those sachets, some might kill you in the long run.

  7. Nice seeing you here “anonymous” and “skye”.


    If they still sell the same product, I really doubt it because not only their marketing campaign is pathetic compare to Nescafe, their product is also inferior. I tried it, my wife, my friends, and officemates tried it. It does not taste well. The only reason I would buy it is I am drunk and it’s the only instant coffee available.


    I am not a coffee addict but the San Mig coffee really doesn’t taste good. Yes, I will be careful next time I try another brand of coffee.

  8. I agree. coffee and alcohol shouldn’t be mixed. Because a consumer might not like the product (in this case, the coffee product of San Miguel is at stake because when you here the word San Miguel, beer is associated with it). Just think about putting coffee and alcohol together. It makes me want to barf. Really. The culprit here is the stereotyping capabilities of the consumers. On a lighter note, coffee and rum does mix. =p

  9. Oh, and I agree with you Greg Moreno and Skye. San Mig coffee doesn’t taste good. I prefer nescafe when it comes to coffee any time (no matter how adventurous I am when it comes to coffee). =)

  10. This is actually funny, my cousin told me to get him san mig coffee in from the Supermarket, and you guessed it, I ended up buying San Mig Light.

    How does San Mig Coffee fair in terms of taste? I havent tried it yet. Iam a Great Taste 3in1 drinker and I should say that it tastes great. DOnt you think Nescafe’s new 3in1 stick is too sweet?

  11. my group in our marketing class is doing a marketing plan regarding san mig coffee. we have the same dilemna, but we are looking also in the other side of the story. what do you guys think of the packaging of san mig coffee?? is their advertisements effective?

  12. suggestion lang,why don’t u just go back to the most classic blend of pinoy coffee, Blend 45… ;)made especially for our ideal taste of coffee. sarap…mura pa. it just lacks great advertising and marketing effort, but when we were younger it’s the coffee our lolo’s and lola’s loved. And if only URC gives it some promotional boost, i think it can compete with Nescafe.kayalang nga most consumers would buy something with great image,like nescafe. and Blend45 doesnt have that great positioning image in our minds.

  13. I agree with you! Blend 45 is one of the smooth tasting coffee I have ever tried. I found Blend 45 is Rustan’s recently. It’s been kinda hard finding it in the supermarkets like SM. Havent heard from it or seen it in a long time until last weekend when I purchased it in Rustan’s. It’s still priced very low and I love it. sulit siya… sorry im not a fan of Nescafe.. it has a weird taste.

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