Carling steps up in a challenging market

While beer has faced a challenging market in the impulse channel, Coors’ Carling brand has put in a strong performance to become the largest volume seller.

In the impulse channel beer volume was down 7% MAT, according to Nielsen Scantrack data for the year to October 4, however this was in keeping with liquor in general which recorded a decline of 4% MAT.

The decline was not uniform across the beer category, however. Mainstream lagers with ABVs of around 4% performed better than the stronger premium lagers with ABVs or around 5%, and this has encouraged the introduction of new entrants to the 4% market. Cider and sparkling wine were the exceptions to the overall dip in the liquor market, but ale continued to decline.

Within Coors’ portfolio of brands, Carling has had a successful year. According to Nielsen Scantrack it has climbed to a 17.7% share of lager in the impulse market, overtaking Stella on 17.4%, to become the number one volume seller.

Coors Light also put in a strong performance. It received major investment in 2008 and has more than doubled impulse volume and rate of sale compared to last year, with other competing lighter tasting lager brands in over 10% volume decline.

The mid strength category has been led by Carling C2, which has added over 50% impulse volume compared to last year, and in an ale market that has seen little in terms of innovation, Caffrey’s launch in ‘cold activated’ cans (where the Caffrey’s knot turns blue when the beer is cold enough to drink) saw sales up 10% in the third quarter of 2008.

Reflecting on these successes, Tom MacLennan, channel director at Coors Brewers, says: “The wholesale channel is very important to Coors Brewers and we are continually working with our wholesale customers to deliver tailored pieces of activity that will deliver against their objectives.”

This year Coors has shown strong support for FWD initiatives, providing a 50p money-off coupon on a Coors Light six pack to the offer during National Independents’ Week, and contributing expertise to the FWD’s category building Blueprint programme. In addition it has worked with individual groups and companies such as supporting Landmark Wholesale’s Hot House initiative.

In depots heavyweight television advertising and outdoor spend on Carling, Grolsch and Coors Light has been supported with display materials and point of sale for retailers. The company has also introduced a range of price-marked packs in recognition of the growing demand from retailers and consumers.

And from October Coors has run a series of distribution drives on Grolsch, Coors Light and Caffrey’s, allowing retailers to access a multi-case deal via a call from its telesales team.

Looking ahead to 2009, MacLennan says: “Coors must-stock brands will be Carling and Grolsch, with Worthington’s and Stones at regional level. These brands will get bigger and so the FWD and Hot House plannogram support to the retailer will be invaluable.

“Price-marked packs will continue to be prevalent in the trade with the 2008 Cash Carry Retailer study conducted by him! concluding that 66% of retailers think that price marking is effective in promoting products and generating a consumer rate of sale.

“Mainstream and mid strength lager will see continued growth, while those brands available in cold activated cans and bottles offer a distinct consumer proposition. Research conducted for Caffrey’s found that over half of the ale consumers it surveyed said that they enjoy drinking extra cold ales and believe cold ales are more refreshing.

“With British consumers taking an increased interest in the quality and sourcing of the food and drink they buy, Carling has launched a new campaign to champion the best quality British ingredients in its lager. Coors is the only brewer in the UK to malt its own barley, which means the brewers at Carling know where every grain of barley has come from and are able to select only the highest grade. Carling uses 100% British barley to ensure the best quality pint of lager.”

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