Comment - That Calls for a Carlsberg
Carlsberg's new worldwide strapline highlights the lack of truly global beer brands in an extremely consolidated industry.
Carlsberg wants beer drinkers from Hanoi to Liverpool to "reward" themselves with a cold lager (Carlsberg, of course) upon completing some worthy feat. I was one of around 80 journalists assembled in a green spotlighted chamber at Carlsberg HQ yesterday, to hear of the global marketing campaign - a first for the brewer.
It underlines a growing trend at the top of the brewing industry tree, with Heineken having recently launched its "Open Your World" campaign across all markets and Anheuser-Busch InBev keen to forge Budweiser as a worldwide phenomenon. These examples highlight, in turn, efforts to cure beer of travel sickness, despite the relatively consolidated nature of the global brewing industry.
In 2010, only three beer brands made it into Interbrand's top 100 global brands. Budweiser was the highest ranked, at 30, with Corona Extra and Heineken trailing down at 85th and 93rd respectively.
International brewers face problems in translating their global presence into corresponding brand value. One of the reasons is that beer brands have different images in different markets, hence one sees Foster's lager sold under licence by Heineken as a mainstream brand in the UK, and by SABMiller as a super-premium brand in India. What works in one market doesn't necessarily work in another.
In several other product sectors, by and large, this doesn't happen. A Rolex is a Rolex is a Rolex, no matter where you buy it.
Carlsberg's global marketing campaign is an attempt to create some kind of order from the brewing industry's patchwork system.
However, after allowing local markets to develop for so long, have brewers left it too late to impose this sort of international idendity? By trying to cover all bases, brewers run the risk of boiling down their message to something that sounds too bland to be distinctive in the market.
There is less risk of this in emerging markets, which by their nature are not so far down the track. That said, I would argue that beer marketing between the major players is in general strikingly similar and that, in many places, there are not enough points of difference to foster long-lasting brand loyalty.
The global campaigns risk adding to this problem. Heineken asks us to 'open our world', Carlsberg wants us to 'step up', Anheuser-Busch InBev's corporate motto talks of 'dream and deliver'; and all the while adverts rely heavily on the same humorous banter.
I don't pretend to be presenting solid evidence on brand loyalty in the beer industry, beyond the obvious lack of truly global brands produced by the sector. But, I would suggest that, rather than marketing messages, price tags and distribution muscle have been more significant in building high-end beer brands in key markets.
Uniting a brand behind one global banner is a fine ambition, but brewers will have to put in a lot of hard yards. You know what success will call for...
The penultimate part of this month's management briefing considers the emerging markets, and the position they will take in the future of our industry....
Beers at or below 2.8%abv will begin to benefit from a tax break in the UK from the start of October, but how big is the opportunity?...
StarBev is working to launch its Staropramen lager in 15 new markets, the brewer's CEO has told just-drinks....
Heineken has made two executive appointments at its US division, with one moving across from Diageo and the other joining from Nielsen....
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