Olympic Boost for Beer Sales

June 20th, 2012 | Posted in: Features

Type ‘2012’ into google and you’ll be presented with various harbingers of doom banging on about the end of the world, and the Olympic Games. One is a dead cert. The Olympics may eclipse pretty much everything else this year, but there’s still a bumper summer of various sporting events scheduled across the globe, and this affords licensees lots of opportunity to sell beer. After all, beer and sport do go hand in hand.
Despite beer sales declining a further £2.2bn in 2011, to take the overall market value from £17.7 bn (roughly £1.77 bn in Scotland) in 2006 to £15.5bn (roughly £1.55bn in Scotland) in 2011, there is still room for optimism.
Lager dominates this category and has therefore seen a greater loss than, say, ale or stout. A report by industry analysts Mintel suggests there’s still plenty of appetite among younger drinkers for innovation in lager. Johnny Forsyth of Mintel says, “Some 28% of UK lager drinkers are interested in sweet-tasting lagers – this rises to 57% of those aged 18 to 24. Indeed, while older consumers view lager in quite a traditional way, younger drinkers see it as more of a ‘blank canvas’. The beer market has been trying to appeal to a broader audience, more recently to females with products such as lite beers. Beer is also belatedly catching on to the importance of flavour innovation.”
One such example of flavoured innovation is the recently launched summer lager from Molson Coors, Carling Zest. It helps that it is being backed by a £2m ‘Summer Bottled’ marketing campaign. As well as press and TV campaigns they are also utilising YouTube and aligning the brand with various DJs.
But all eyes will be on Heineken at the Olympics. It is the official lager supplier and is the only branded lager, and Heineken will have exclusive pouring rights. And they do this type of activity incredibly well. You only have to look at how they supported the Heineken Rugby World Cup, and the Olympics is a far bigger occasion. Says John Gemmell, Heineken UK’s Trading Director North, “It’s a momentous summer for Heineken in the UK. We kicked off with the Champions League and Heineken Cup, culminating in the sponsorship of London 2012 and the Paralympics. This of course is a great opportunity to do some global brand building, not just in London, but along the route of the Olympic torch relay and beyond. We won’t be taking our eye off the ball in Scotland either, as the official pouring beer at Hampden, and we will be supporting licensees around the stadium that stock Heineken. Plus, the Olympics will undoubtedly be an opportunity for all licensees to think about their proposition during the games.”
The other beers in the Heineken stable are also getting in on the act this summer.
Foster’s has launched a Good Call Centre in response to a Facebook petition calling for a ‘real-world’ helpline that offers tongue-in-cheek advice to daily dilemmas from TV agony uncles Brad and Dan.
Miller Brands is rolling out ‘Czech Mates’, its experiential activity for its Czech beer Kozel. The new phase of the sampling activity began a few months ago, and will be organised in key cities around the UK.
Czech Mates takes the format of an interactive game whereby Kozel ambassadors challenge consumers to answer questions about their mates.
As part of the activity, each participant has to answer three questions correctly to win a 2-for-1 Kozel beer token, which is redeemable at the bar.
Lucy Jordan, Director of Customer Marketing for Miller Brands, said, “World Beers, like Kozel, represent a real opportunity for retailers to maximise profits as the category is in strong growth.” Licensees will also receive a customer-focused support package, including POS and new glassware.”
Miller Brands is also launching a new TV advertising campaign for Miller Genuine Draft. The activity, which kicks off this month, features a new creative that will build on the ‘Tonight, It’s Miller Time’ campaign, and also includes sponsorship of MTV.
There are some great creative ideas coming from licensees too. Carl Glanville manager of Sharkys International Bar, Montrose, “We are a Belhaven leased pub and they are providing us with a lot of in-bar stuff in support of Spain at the UEFA cup and we have San Miguel of course. We have loads of world beers – some 30 – and the staff are always encouraged to push them and pair them with food. For example our Buffalo burger goes superbly with American beer Samuel Adams.
Downstairs is all kitted out in Olympics paraphernalia and this room has an international flavour to it anyway, as we invite our foreign customers to pin foreign notes to the back wall. Other than that we are also doing our own pub Olympics. We have Beer Pong, and we’re aligning different beers with different athletes, like pushing Jamaican Red Stripe when Usain Bolt runs.”
Donal Hurrell, General Manager at Edinburgh’s Three Sisters, said, “Upstairs at The Three Sisters is The Beer Hall, with waitress service and steins of beer and food platters which customers have to book. We’re doing this for the UEFA cup and for major sporting events at the Olympics. We’ve also just invested in a giant outdoor LED screen which is going to make watching sport such a quality experience.”
Jim Anderson of The Anderson in Fortrose writes passionately about beer every month in DRAM. He thinks that there are many simple and inexpensive ways that licensees can exploit this time of year. He says, “It’s summer so everyone reaches for a lager, right? I think that the Olympics is a great driver for sales of world beers as most of the countries competing have a beer associated with it. We do something similar with the Six Nations where we feature beers from competing countries and introduce some flavour and sparkle into an otherwise humdrum beer selection. It’s a natural fit, and there are plenty of yellow fizzy selections which mean that you don’t have to go down the road of dark beer, which people can be afraid of.”
John Gilligan, sales managing director at Tennent Caledonian believes that there is a lot to be positive about and insists on support based on individual licensees’ needs rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. He said, “There’s a lot creativity already out there among Scottish licensees, and we are happy to meet individual customer needs instead in terms of support. I have been impressed by what I have seen already when out in the trade and the efforts being made to make occasions out of the Olympics.”
And the new advertising campaign from Tennent’s Export has an international flavour too. It’s the most amusing campaign from the brand in years.

Jason Caddy

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