Posted April 2011
is a fashion statement
beer brands | If only building a global beer brand was a “3v”
affair, Budweiser would be the King of Beers. Veni Vidi Vici, or
marketing according to Julius Caesar, is like a military campaign.
You go in, pick a fight, biff the local king about the chops and the
territory is yours. Perhaps Anheuser-Busch thought they could conquer
the world Roman-style: one battle at a time. But since taking
Budweiser global decades ago, their success was mixed and in the end
they failed to steer clear of a Brutus. Maybe that’s taking the
analogy a bit far. Yet this goes to show that building a global beer
brand is more like a “3c” thing: it's complicated, cumbersome and
costly. Especially if you do it from scratch as SABMiller has done
with its Italian Peroni brand.
is not a word that comes to mind when talking about AB-InBev’s CEO.
Because if Mr Brito has his way, Budweiser
will soon join Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Google and McDonald's in the
pantheon of global brands that are almost as popular overseas as in
the United States, their country of origin.
is more Mr Brito’s style. As a sponsor of
sports events like the Olympics and the Football World Cup, Budweiser
has gained name recognition (or notoriety as a bland and uninspiring
beer) in most parts of the world. It has a market-leading position in
Canada and sells reasonably well in a few other markets, like China,
Ireland, the UK and Italy.
the “King of Beer”, as Budweiser liked to call itself, it ain’t.
In many countries, Budweiser is drunk in homoeopathic quantities. So
can the new AB-InBev overcome these obstacles? Mr Brito certainly
thinks he can. In March this year, Mr Brito announced that he managed
a modest turnaround for Budweiser in 2010 after a steady decline for
nearly 20 years. As a next step he plans to introduce Budweiser into
Brazil and several other countries where the brand has little or no
will recall that the global growth of Budweiser has often been
hampered by legal tussles between Anheuser-Busch and Budweiser
Budvar, the Czech brewer that also uses the Budweiser name. Some of
these have been settled. AB-InBev reported they now have the right to
sell Budweiser or Bud in 33 of 35 European countries.
will argue that for Budweiser culture, not taste, could prove an
obstacle. Unlike, say, batteries or detergent, beer is a product to
which consumers form deep emotional attachments. In some places, it's
a key part of a region's or a nation's identity. For international
marketers, displacing a favourite local beer brand is harder than
introducing a distinctly American product like Facebook, a soft drink
or a fast food.
one knows that better than the former InBev, who failed spectacularly
and risibly when they tried to take their Brazilian brand Brahma
global. With a certain amount of hoopla and a tie-less CEO John Brock
swaying his hips (a cringingly embarrassing sight to behold) InBev
launched Brahma into the world market in 2005 only to find out that a
brand with a positive image in Bahia has no image -- or, worse,
negative connotations - in Brighton and Bonn. A lesson for all:
brands must find ways of fitting into their consumers' lifestyles.
Otherwise, they will be irrelevant.
is no Brahma, Mr Brito will retort. Still, building a global beer
brand is a tall order. It sounds great on paper, but out in the
streets it can be a challenge. That doesn't mean it is the wrong
strategy. It may not work in Belgium or Germany, but if Budweiser can
get China, where the premium segment already stands at 3 percent of
the total market (ie 13 million hl in 2009) and Brazil, where it is
4.5 percent (ie 5 million hl in 2009), who cares?
must admit I enjoy browsing through so-called marketing bibles that
lay on thick the war metaphor: the market as a battlefield,
competitors as enemies, and employees as foot soldiers. These books
make me laugh. Like swords-and sandals movies where grown men romp
about in leather miniskirts. If these “how-to”-manuals are to be
trusted, market conquest only takes some fearless warriors who will
surge into combat, flying colours and all, seek out an opponent and
chop off his head. “Veni, vidi, vici – brothers-in-arms, this
round of beer is on me.”
the much talked-about guerrilla marketing, which the U.S. craft
brewers used to swear by, is just a different take on the same spiel:
sneak up on your enemy, catch him unawares, hit him and run away with
sorry, but in order to read the rest of this report you have to be a
subscriber of Brauwelt International. Read on
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