Boon Rawd Brewery, Thailand's leading local brewer, has restructured its sales and marketing team because of the threat in rural markets of rival Chang Beer.

The company has relieved its sales team of its marketing duties so it can focus more heavily on promoting the availability of its products, such as Singha Beer, in the rural regions.

Boon Rawd believes it has been lagging behind main rival Chang because of a weak distribution network. As a new division in Boon Rawd trading, the local distribution unit of Boon Rawd Brewery, the sales division will look after 300 dealers nationwide that sell its beer, soda water and drinking water.

A new marketing division will launch promotional campaigns to attract customers, while the sales team, in line with the company's aggressive strategy, will do everything to push the product into the marketplace.

A source said: "Chang beer, run by Beer Thai, built itself from the rural market by converting people's drink choice from traditional white spirits to beer. And Boon Rawd is now launching a counterattack to beat Chang in the rural market."

According to Thai reports, Chang has an 80% coverage of the roughly 200,000 outlets in rural Thailand. Singha beer covers about 65%.

"Singha wants to cover every outlet in rural areas that sells Chang beer," the source said.

This is the latest move in a bitter beer war in Thailand. Beer Thai, owned by Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, already employs the much criticised pooling system, where if a dealer wishes to stock Chang he must also stock the company's whiskey.

Chang lowered the price of its beer to stimulate consumption in rural markets. This has resulted in a dramatic fall in Singha's market share in the last three months, from around 80% to 42%, according to Thai sources.

Chris Brook-Carter