Looking forward to summer festivities

Heineken UK is looking forward to a busy 2012 as it builds on the launches of Foster’s Gold and Bulmers No 17, and Heineken takes on the role of Official Lager of the London 2012 Olympic Games and London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Reviewing the year just ending, Doug Walker, head of customer marketing at Heineken UK, says: “Undoubtedly it’s been a challenging year in the trade with the continued economic situation affecting shoppers and the lack of a major sporting event in the summer to drive key trading periods.

However, Heineken UK has worked hard to continue to build relevant and value-adding brand campaigns for retailers and shoppers which have delivered success.” IRI’s MAT for the impulse sector to October 29 shows the overall beer and cider category has grown by 3.5%, although in the last quarter this growth accelerated to 13.8%. Within the category Heineken UK has outperformed the market, with 6.1% growth in the last year.

Walker adds: “It’s been a really solid year across the entire Heineken UK portfolio but the real success has been watching the growth of Heineken and the launch of our two major NPD initiatives in Foster’s Gold and Bulmers No 17.

He says Foster’s continues to perform strongly as the number one standard lager delivering 3.2% growth across the year, according to the IRI figures, bringing more than pound;106m into the impulse channel. Added to this is the launch of Foster’s Gold in the summer which has already sold more than 20 million bottles.

The Heineken UEFA Champions League campaign helped that brand deliver 12.9% growth in impulse, and Strongbow continues to lead the cider category bringing over pound;74m of sales to the channel and continuing to grow.

Bulmers was bolstered by the launch of Bulmers No 17 and the introduction of new variants to the Limited Editions range, and added more than pound;9m to the channel.

Walker says there are two primary ways in which Heineken UK supports the channel. “First, through multi-million pound investment in our brands we ensure we are creating real consumer momentum so that shoppers are looking for the leading brands when they come into a shop. This in turn creates demand through the wholesale channel as retailers need to stock the leading brands that shoppers are looking for.

“To support this Heineken is working with depots to advise how they can make the shopping experience for a retailer as quick and easy as possible. By employing simple principles around range, merchandising and price depots can ensure that retailers get exactly what they want every time they shop which keeps them coming back. To support both of these areas Heineken then invests in people resource, channel specific initiatives and local depot activities to ensure we are maximising every opportunity within the channel.”

Looking ahead Walker says staying at home for social events will continue to grow, particularly around mixed sex social drinking occasions. These are often last minute arrangements so shoppers will be looking to pick up cold beer and cider which appeal to males and females from their local store. He says brands such as Foster’s Gold and Bulmers No 17 are targeted at these mixed sex occasions and will bring additional value to a retailer’s category.

He predicts consumers will continue to look for the best value on products and Heineken UK has developed a range of price-marked packs across its portfolio that provide shoppers with reassurance that they are getting a good deal from their local store.

A massive opportunity for retailers in 2012 exists around the summer programme, says Walker, with the UEFA Champions League Final, European Championships, Diamond Jubilee and London 2012. “The whole country will be in party spirit for several months and many people will choose to celebrate these occasions at home giving the impulse channel a huge opportunity to drive some excitement through beer and cider. We’d really encourage depots to spend the first couple of months of 2012 planning how to maximise their store ready for this key trading period.”

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