The national accounts manager for Heineken USA says the upscale segment of the beer category is driving growth.
Grocery Headquarters: What is the state of the beer category?
Steve Ward: The upscale beer segment represents an estimated 15% of the overall beer market and is driving growth in the beer category. Since 2008, upscale beer has contributed $1.25 billion in growth. It is a very attractive space and the space in which Heineken USA has always competed.
To continue to successfully compete in this arena, we have deepened our portfolio, over the past three to four years, with multiple power brands that resonate with different consumer groups. Dos Equis Lager, one of the fastest growing brands in the U.S. (up 20% in the food channel), and Newcastle have the youngest consumer base in our portfolio with the highest percentage of Millennial consumers. Our Newcastle brand has launched four limited-edition varieties and we have introduced Amstel Wheat in bottle format for retail.
We recently secured the rights for Strongbow Cider in the U.S. market. Cider is one of the fastest growing segments in the U.S., up 20% in 2011. The addition of Strongbow to the Heineken USA portfolio—Strongbow has been a part of our global portfolio for many years—reinforces our leadership in the upscale segment, leverages our existing resources in the global cider market and highlights our commitment to growing the cider market in the U.S.
All of these initiatives have helped increase the offerings in our portfolio to be able to best meet the needs of retailers and consumers seeking more variety in the off-premise segment.
How can retailers and suppliers drive sales this holiday season?
Upscale beer sales skew higher during the holiday period when consumers are more likely to trade up for their holiday entertaining and celebration needs. In fact, the weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s rank fourth, fifth and sixth for the year in terms of dollar volume for import and craft beers. We encourage retailers to maximize their opportunity by increasing display and promotion of high velocity upscale SKUs such as the Heineken 12-pack.
Heineken sales traditionally spike during the holiday period and Heineken delivers the highest dollar volume lift of any upscale brand when featured and displayed. To drive this upscale beer opportunity even further, we have a range of retail activations for our portfolio including Dos Equis Masquerade, Newcastle No Bollocks and, of course, our blockbuster Heineken Bond activation.
Heineken is tying in with the release of the latest James Bond movie. How will that help beer sales?
We have a fully integrated 360-degree program leveraging the successful 15-year, six-film partnership between Heineken and James Bond—two premium and iconic global brands. The latest Bond film, Skyfall, represents Heineken’s biggest through-the-line activation ever and includes unprecedented media engagement, dedicated public relations efforts and robust retail activation to engage consumers at the point of purchase and drive sales of Heineken Lager through the end of 2012.
At retail, five million specially marked 12-, 18- and 24-packs will reach retail outlets throughout the country from September through December. These special promotional packs are marked with QR codes that invite consumers to scan/text in for a 1 in 007 chance to win movie tickets. With the higher chances of winning, repeat purchase of Heineken is more likely during the promotion period. We are excited to be able to activate this program on pack. The packages are eye-catching and really stand out when on display.
In addition, we are offering Bond themed display and point-of-sale materials to merchandise accounts and encourage shoppers to make Heineken a part of their holiday celebrations.