Heineken's Indio Beer Line Targets Young Latino Market

Is Heineken's roll out strategy for its latest acquisition savvy or ill-advised?
 Heineken's Indio Beer Line Targets Young Latino Market

As our frequent readers must know by now, we adore a good demographic-specific PR strategy here at Food & Drink Digital. We love nothing more than to be reminded that guys drink like this, while girls drink like this, and that while younger men like their potato chips extra extreme, younger women like their wine extra flirty. But sometimes we catch ourselves thinking – what about ethnic demographics? So we were just chuffed as ever when a press release from Heineken USA landed on our desktop announcing the launch of its Indio beer in key test markets throughout California and Texas.

Part of Heineken USA’s takeover of Cervecería Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma (the Mexican brewery which also produces Tecate, Dos Equis, Bohemia, and Sol), Indio is a darker beer recognizable for the indigenous warrior on its logo – El Indio, as it were. The beer has been brewed in Mexico since 1893, but is now making its U.S. debut, something the brand itself is very excited about:


“Not only does the launch of Indio in the U.S. strengthen Heineken USA’s portfolio and strategic innovation platform, but it supports our ambition of becoming the leading beer company in the U.S.,” said Felix Palau, VP of marketing, Indio. “Market segmentation continues to have a major impact on the industry and Indio will use this trend to create a very specific campaign that speaks directly to the niche audiences’ interests and passions in life.”


That’s all good and well, and we’re sure it’s really delicious. But wait – what was that about those niche audiences again? Don’t worry, the press release gets into that.


According to a recent study* there are five million multicultural millennial consumers identified as “change agents”. Indio will focus on Hispanic men 21-26 years old who are constantly in search for brands that understand their need to express their identity by creatively fusing urban and Latino cultures. Indio will launch a platform through which this expression can be shared among consumers.     


(There was no rejoinder to that asterisk in the press release, by the way. What was this mysterious study on young Latino change agents? We may never know.)

But what we DO know is that we love buzzwords like “millennial.” Those young millenials are wild and crazy, change agents in their love for adventurous products like pepper jack cheese and dark beer. (This ain’t your dad’s Corona!). Then there’s “urban,” which is a term that has a history of being problematic when used as a buzzword. But this isn’t for just any young city-dwelling gangster – we’re looking at the young Millenial urban Latino men crying out for a beer that will speak to both their urban and Latino cultures. But how can a beer reach out to target the cholo market? By speaking their language, naturally.


As part of the brand’s pre-launch strategy, HEINEKEN USA hosted “The Indio Experience,” a series of Indio Road Shows for distributors and retailers in key markets to introduce the brand and offer insight into its target audience. This was accomplished through which immersed attendees into the passion of Indio’s consumer through live performances from DJs and bands, Spanglish tutorials, and brand sampling.


Spanglish tutorials.






Our sister publication Exec Digital posed the question: is Heineken’s new PR campaign racist? The results were inconclusive – some think it’s nice that the brand is celebrating Latino heritage, and that the positives outweigh the negatives. We’re also not so sure that “racist” is the right term to describe this press release – it’s not malicious, after all. Heineken USA really does want to make an honest commerce-based connection with this demographic. We just wouldn’t exactly put it in the same sentence with words like “sensitive,” “considerate,” or “thoughtful,” either.

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