Magazine article Marketing

Brand Health Check: Kronenbourg 1664

Magazine article Marketing

Brand Health Check: Kronenbourg 1664

Article excerpt

The French premium lager seems to have lost its way and its sense of identity, writes Joe Thomas.

Kronenbourg 1664's UK vintage doesn't extend anyway near as far back as 1664 - in fact, it launched here in 1952, timed to coincide with the Queen's accession, the company claims.

Much has changed since 1952, but the monarch is the same and Kronenbourg is still a feature of pubs and bars, under its elegant draught taps.

The brand hit the headlines recently when the ASA investigated complaints that one of its ads, featuring chefs slicing bubbles to promote its Dynamo Systeme pouring system, condoned knife violence Kronenbourg was subsequently exonerated.

Behind the sensationalist headlines, though, there are deeper causes for concern. Sales for the year to April 2008 dropped 20%, according to TNS' Biggest Brands survey, before the current downturn had begun to bite.

Kronenbourg, the eighth bestselling lager in the UK, is clearly suffering from an identity crisis. A premium lager it might be, but it is making no headway against market leader Stella, leaving 1664's offering somewhat at sea. Even Carling, seen by many as a 'blokes' drink', has announced plans to communicate a 'quality' aspect.

Moreover, as beer kits and wooden barrels return, Kronenbourg needs a cunning strategy to survive.

Can Kronenbourg save itself? We asked Lorraine Griffiths, managing director of RTD manufacturer Alcohol Brands, and Barry Seal, managing director at strategic design agency Anthem, whose clients include US brewer Coors, for their thoughts.

DIAGNOSIS

Two experts on how Kronenbourg can become the tipple of choice again

LORRAINE GRIFFITHS MANAGING DIRECTOR, ALCOHOL BRANDS

There was a time when Kronenbourg was considered the king of premium beers in the UK - the wiser uncle of Stella. Both have problems, but for quite different reasons.

Where Stella tends to provoke a partisan response in the drinks industry, Kronenbourg is often met with a blank.

The brand's problem is that it has been left behind. A legion of authentic German bottled beers full of strong taste has brushed aside the old man from Strasbourg. This and a new wave of RTDs and premium ciders mean Kronenbourg is largely overlooked.

Its Dynamo Systeme pouring mechanic for the canned product is a weak proposition backed by gimmicky advertising.

And its fruit-flavoured bottled beer is no better. You don't mess around with a blokes' beer by adding fruit, and women won't consider it.

One thing in Kronenbourg's favour is that the on-trade currently has an open goal when it comes to the creation of a vibrant good-quality draught lager. …

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