Magazine article Marketing

Guinness Bitter in the Can Echoes Rival Brands

Magazine article Marketing

Guinness Bitter in the Can Echoes Rival Brands

Article excerpt

Guinness bitter in the can echoes rival brands

Guinness Brewing GB chose the run-up to April Fools' Day to announce a move that had industry pundits wondering if they could believe their ears.

For the first time ever, Guinness, the 230 year-old brand synonymous with the treacle black, creamy-headed Irish stout, is to be used on something completely different: draught bitter in a can.

It was Guinness which pioneered the basic concept of draught beer in a can, back in 1988. Now it has stunned the drinks world by spreading its cherished brand name across a whole new product area -- and one not renowned for its quality.

Drinkers testify to canned bitter's taste by preferring to drink more canned lager at home. In the ontrade, 52% of all beer sales are bitter. This falls to 30% for take-home purchases.

The company was known to have been working on the so-called "Project Ferret" to develop a draught bitter in a can for some time, following its highly-praised replication of draught Guinness which market researcher Stats MR dubbed most successful beer launch of the 80s.

But Whitbread's announcement this year that it had developed technology to can its Murphy's stout and rival Guinness original, and that it was to relaunch its Boddington's ale in cans this spring, brought new impetus to the sector which had already seen canned premium bitters from Courage and Bass.

The retail trade senses the giant has been prodded into action. "I read into this that Guinness is trying to take a pot-shot back and scotch Whitbread's launch," says Richard Macadam, at Oddbins off-licences.

That's a view Guinness, not surprisingly, strongly refutes, claiming it has spent the past four years developing the product.

"There is an exceptional opportunity in the off-trade for a national bitter brand that can deliver real draught quality and taste," says Guinness marketing director Andrew McMeekan. …

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