Stella 4% takes the lead

Just four beer brands made it into this year’s top 25 fastest-growing take-home drinks brands – two fewer than in 2009. Last year’s front runner Beck’s Vier is nowhere to be seen and has been overtaken by 2010’s overall fastest-moving brand, Stella Artois 4%, which has witnessed sales increases of a whopping 130%. Sales have jumped to £64 million since its launch in 2008.

Adam Oakley, marketing director for Stella Artois western Europe, says A-B Inbev UK has capitalised on recognising shifting tastes and trends.

He says: “Over the past several years, we have demonstrated not only the importance of innovation, but also our strength in understanding changing consumer tastes and developing innovations to address consumer needs.

“Along these lines, Stella Artois 4% was launched catering to the premiumisation trend. It was the most successful launch of 2008 and, supported by award-winning advertising campaigns, has helped to drive growth for the Stella Artois family.”?The brand has benefited from a heavyweight 1960s-style poster and press campaign, with a focus on the French Riviera and the strapline Triple Filtered. Smooth Taste. The poster and press advertising campaign was backed up in-store with the illustrations featured on-pack, as well as on merchandising units to “further cement the associations in the consumers’ mind”, adds Oakley.

Shoppers have been targeted through TV, out-of-home advertising, digital and sponsorship such as the Cannes Film Festival.

Peroni has managed to build on its value increases of 34% in 2009 and boasts a rise of 45% in value this year.

Darren Tendler, sales director of Miller Brands UK, says: “We have a very clear strategy for the brand. We want Peroni to lead the world beer category and add value across the off and on-trade.

We have a strong above-the-line proposition and take that through the line to make sure consumers connect with the brand at every opportunity.

“Generally speaking beer is a low-value item and is priced at a level to drive footfall. We want to make an environment in world beer where you don’t have to discount heavily.”?Tendler says consumers are happy to pay more if a brand has a clear message of heritage, provenance and authenticity.

“Peroni is brewed in Italy and we see that as being very important. In the same way consumers expect wine to be made at source, they are demanding the same credentials with beer.”?The brand has collaborated with big names from Italian design, fashion and art, and plans to move this forward with director Gabriele Muccino in August. The marketing spend this year will increase on last year and the latest collaboration will feature in cinemas, outdoor and press ads and on-pack promotions.

“These partnerships have been critical for us to build on the brand’s differentiation from others,” adds Tendler.

He says other added-value promotions, including five-bottle packs with a glass, will happen later on this year.

Eyes on the game?As well as Stella 4%, another A-B Inbev brand also made it into the top 25. Budweiser is now worth £187 million in the off-trade and sales have jumped by 41%.

James Watson, marketing director for Budweiser western Europe, attributes the brand’s growth to a number of reasons, including its sponsorship of the World Cup.

“Budweiser has gone from strength to strength by increasing consumer choice through the introduction of new can and bottle SKUs, our successful campaigns, including Good Times, They’re Out There and the TV commercial Bud Wave.”?Watson says this year Budweiser has introduced two World Cup limited editions – its 47.3cl aluminium trophy bottle and a limited edition pint can.

“We’ve also unveiled Swap, a new TV commercial celebrating the spirit of the World Cup, and our promotion Predict & Win is now live. With a week and a half to go before kick-off, consumers are already flocking to the online game, with more than 70,000 site visits to date and 15,000 registered players.”?Running across more than 10 million packs in the UK, Watson says this is Budweiser’s largest ever on-pack promotion.

“Together, all of these activities have combined to further improve Budweiser’s already strong brand equity,” adds Watson.

The volume increases were slightly higher for Budweiser, which were up 57% compared with value sales of 41%. Watson says this is down to a “combination of a change in our SKU mix, change in our pack offering – in particular the expansion of our can line-up – and increased promotions”.

Reaping the benefits?Just nipping at Budweiser’s heels is Spanish lager San Miguel, which has seen value increases of 39%, making it now worth £52 million.

David Scott, director of customer marketing at Carlsberg UK, says San Miguel is benefiting from the overall growth in the world beer category.

“Consumers are looking to explore different areas and turning away from mainstream or standard brands. It’s a good opportunity for growth of this new category.”?Carlsberg took over distribution of San Miguel from S&N 18 months ago and rebranded it in April 2009.

It launched a £7 million marketing campaign, an investment which Scott says will be matched in 2010.

A heavyweight TV campaign was launched last May and was supported with outdoor posters, regional print and cinema ads, as well as experiential activity at train stations throughout the UK to encourage trial. The campaign centred around the Not A Quick Beer tagline.

Carlsberg also introduced new packaging for the brand, including can and bottle label designs inspired by the brand’s look in continental Europe and built on San Miguel’s Spanish heritage.

Scott says new cinema ads, a heavyweight outdoor campaign and in-store promotions featuring chalice glassware will kick off from August 3.

The beer is brewed in Northampton but, unlike Tendler, Scott believes this doesn’t have an impact on consumers.

“Very few world beers are brewed in the country of origin and whenever we talk to consumers it seems to be something the industry is much more concerned about than they are. The taste profile of San Miguel is exactly the same as it is in Spain.”