How Pabst Blue Ribbon Dominated the Millennial Marketing WorldThe beer of Pabst Blue Ribbon has been described as a lot of things: Delicious, cheap, watered-down hipster trash, the breakfast of champions (okay, maybe that last one is just me), but no matter what it’s called, the PBR brand has earned the right to be called the next Millennial marketing machine.

That’s right.

Although Pabst Blue Ribbon has been around for 170 years, their popularity has skyrocketed in the last seven.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 8.45.13 PMWhat Has Changed?


Historically, Pabst Blue Ribbon has always been the underdog of the beer world, suffering very long-dark periods of little-to-no successes.

For example, in 2001, their sales sank to less than a million barrels, creating a seemingly-unrecoverable dip in both the finances and the morale of the company.

After hiring Neal Stewart, a 27-year-old marketing manager, PBR started making themselves more apparent within lesser known “hip” events and soon after they realized the opportunity in front of them.


No longer attempting to market to a demographic of 50-year-old beer snobs, Pabst Blue Ribbon shifted all focus towards Millennial marketing. And as shown in the above graph, their sales have shot up more than 200 percent since 2004.

What Can We Learn from This?

The Millennial marketing world is enormous, holding an estimated buying power of $1.68 trillion.

Therefore, it is important to use this demographic within a marketing campaign, and there are certain tactics to gain success in this realm.

Let’s talk about what we can learn from PBR to help shift into the Millennial marketing world.

Get On Mobile

Of course, with Google recently rolling out the “Mobilegeddon” update within their algorithm, it is always a good idea to incorporate mobile-friendliness—or responsive design—within a website. Doing so will grant a website with an enormous leg up in the SEO world, and equally important, the Millennial world.

With nearly 25 percent of the world’s population owning a smartphone and a whopping 61 percent of adult cell phone users in the U.S. with a smartphone, a mobile website is becoming more of a necessity than a luxury.

Smartphones and tablets are changing the way Millennials go about their daily lives, and PBR is taking note of this by creating a mobile-friendly site, catering to the devices their target demographic is using.

Cater to Millennials

Much like other demographics, Millennials respond kindly to businesses that cater to their interests.

PBR has taken this possibility by the reigns and covered nearly every corner of the Millennial world.

With the rising need for graphic designers and artists, Pabst Blue Ribbon created the “PBR Art” contest where users are asked to “do whatever the hell they want” to artistically recreate the PBR logo for a chance to win $30,000.

This alone has yielded great feedback for the company, since they are giving young aspiring artists an outlet to showcase their art.

Along with this, PBR has made appearances in Millennial lives across the world.

Between sponsoring snowboarding events, holding a contest where users can win a custom pair of custom Pabst Blue Ribbon Vans shoes, and simply providing a blog full of Millennial-targeted posts, PBR has crafted a reason for young individuals to support their brand.

Use Social Media

Without a doubt, social media is taking the business marketing world by storm.

In the recent years it has created a standardized method of customer service and revitalized the inbound marketing world for businesses around the globe.

Studies have shown that a business’s social media presence contributes to 78 percent of a customer’s purchasing decision.

Things aren’t much different in the Millennial world. In fact, most young customers may not even know of a business’s existence due to a lack of social media presence.

Young individuals use social media like it is their job, but there are a variety of social media channels that businesses are overlooking entirely.

Platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram can provide incredible results among the Millennial world if use correctly, and PBR is doing just that.

Simply taking one look at the company’s Instagram account is proof enough.

With more than 100,000 followers, their Instagram presence shows exactly how Millennials like to be marketed to: Fun, interesting content that shows a brand’s personality more than their products.

Millennial Marketing and Experiences

Overall, PBR has held onto the common agreement within the Millennial community, which is the fact that young consumers—myself included—would rather pay more to have a genuine experience with a business.

Ease-of-use, personality, and honesty are all factors young customers take into consideration when shopping.

It is important for the business world to take notice of this.

image credit: Kevin Becvar in the PBR art contest

Taylor Tomita

Taylor is a creative writer from Boise, Idaho. Writing about social media and marketing, Taylor hopes to spread insight on these topics. When not writing you can find Taylor wandering about in search of pizza. Be sure to follow him on

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