Magazine article Marketing

Beck's Bier

Magazine article Marketing

Beck's Bier

Article excerpt

The slump in sales of the lager brand reflects a wider problem affecting beer, writes Jeremy Lee.

Lumping beer and cider into the same category has always led to an inaccurate picture of people's consumption of these two drinks. While Kantar Worldpanel figures suggest that the category is up by 4.1%, that growth has been driven by cider.

With a combination of innovation, advertising and a more favourable duty regime, sales of cider have shot up 14.5% over the past year to pounds 466m, while volume sales have leapt 12.2%.

For beer, the picture is rather less rosy, and for Beck's in particular, the glass is very much half empty. According to Nielsen, sales of Beck's Bier plummeted 13.4% to pounds 84.5m.

Lager as a whole is suffering, with penetration dropping from 53% to 50% over the past five years, and sales falling 10% between 2004 and 2009.

Yet, it remains the biggest drink market of any type, according to Mintel.

Beck's needs to innovate to defend its share of this valuable sector While the introduction of a lower-ABV version - Beck's Vier - proved a timely move, its core brand is looking exposed.

Recently Beck's Bier has sought to connect with a younger audience by boosting its association with contemporary music; for example, last year it invited artists Hard-Fi and Ladyhawke to design a series of limited-edition bottle labels.

Will this be enough to reverse a long-term decline in sales? We asked Helen Light, associate partner at specialist drinks research agency Cardinal Research, and Jon Tipple, head of planning, at McCann Erickson, who has worked on marketing for Budweiser.

Diagnosis: Two industry experts give their opinion on restoring Beck's fortunes

HELEN LIGHT associate partner, Cardinal Research

Like the boss who experiences the sudden realisation that he has been overtaken by his protege, Beck's Bier has blinked twice and is left wondering what the hell Twitter is for.

With sales down, in stark contrast to a buoyant Beck's Vier, the challenges facing the little green bottle are compounded by Anheuser-Busch InBev's switch in focus to a similar purity story for Stella Artois. Didn't Beck's own the four ingredients line?

The increased visibility of premium lagers driven by contemporary draught offers, including Vier, and attention-grabbing fruit ciders, have pushed Beck's Bier further - metaphorically, if not literally - toward the bottom shelf.

Add to this, the shifting tastes toward lighter delivery, in liquid and brand terms (witness Corona and Peroni), and Beck's feels like it's drifting from our hearts and minds.

Beck's retains its credibility and authenticity but increasingly lacks relevance to younger mainstream drinkers and can feel rather earnest. …

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