An integrated marketing communications program that is tailored to Versace beer in the American market will require research, market testing, finding the right partners for product positing followed by active promotion.
Research
Research is the key to understanding the best marketing approach, one which will not only support the new branding and launch of Versace beer, but also have no negative impacts on the fashion line of this established brand (Müge & Korkut, 2010). Current assumptions are that there is a growing market for high end craft beers, and that a beer that reflects Italian cuisine and style would be well received (Trefis Team, 2015). Thorough research must not only test these assumptions, but also see to discover insights with regard to the American perception of Versace branded beer and the beer that is proposed to be launched as the Versace beer product.

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Market testing
There are two facets of market testing for the Versace beer product. The first is ensuring that the product itself is a good one, and that the target market finds it to have value; the second is with regard to molding the imagery and ideas that are to be associated with the new brand. In the case of Versace beer, market testing should be approached using ethnographic and sociological methods which observe not only what respondents have to say, but the framework and worldview that is being used in coming to these conclusions (Spanjaard et al., 2015). This might include focus groups and direct interviews with a sample representative of the target American market, both in testing the product and in providing the positive and negative feedback with regard to potential marketing approaches.

Reaching out to find partners in the hospitality industry
An important aspect of launching the Versace beer for the American market, in terms of branding and perceptions of the product, will be ensuring the right context for the product. An important aspect of this may be exclusivity. Obviously it will not serve the brand if the Versace beer product is launched with imagery and branding of high fashion and Italian style, but available next to discount brands of beer in discount liquor stores. Exclusivity in the first phase will help with branding, and it provides a promotional opportunity for the right partners in the hospitality industry. A chain of restaurants with a similar positioning in the market, for example, may be a good place for the initial launch of the product. This will provide a “sandbox” of sorts that allows for monitoring of the brand impacts, while isolating the Versace beer from potential negative side effects of losing control of the context in which it is sold. While that may change in the future, after the brand is established, in the first phase ensuring protection of the brand image is just as important as selling the beer, and this is one approach.

Active promotion
Four things are necessary prior to active promotion. This phase must wait for ethnographic analysis to provide insights on best approaches, there must be understanding of how the Versace beer product is likely to be received and perceived in the American target market, the potential impacts on the branding of the fashion line must be investigated, and hospitality partners must be aligned and ready to co-market the product. Once this has been achieved it will be time to proceed with the promotional campaign. Such a promotional campaign is likely to build off of the foundation of the fashion branding as well as the branding of the context in which Versace beer is to be sold, however it remains to be better understood, rather than assumed, and this can only occur with research and analysis regarding best approaches.

    References
  • Müge Arslan, F., & Korkut Altuna, O. (2010). The effect of brand extensions on product brand image. Journal of Product & Brand Management, 19(3), 170-180.
  • Trefis Team. (2015). “Does The Declining U.S. Beer Trend Spell Doom For Brewers?”. Forbes.
  • Spanjaard, D., Freeman, L., & Young, L. (2015). Reflections on journeys within the supermarket. Australasian Marketing Journal (AMJ), 23(4), 303-310.