Beerlines

Insights on beer marketing & PR by a beer-war vet

02 December
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CUB weakens Foster’s Lager. Why?

I was attracted to the bright blue pallet load of Foster’s Lager at Dan Murphy’s.

But what caught my attention was the alcohol content of Foster’s Lager now at 4%.

[UPDATE/CORRECTION 7 December: IT’S CLASSIC!! A case of reading the fine print! This brew is called Foster’s Classic and apparently is being sold exclusively through Dan Murphy’s; the comments at this web site about how ‘Classic’ it is are worth a read. Thanks to beer writer Matt Kirkegaard for the heads-up.]

fosters 4 percent

Previously, as you can see from the pic below from Carlton & United Breweries‘ website, Foster’s Lager was 4.9%. (Perhaps CUB should update its website.)

That’s a whopping 18% reduction!

fosters

Brand histories ignored
Why is CUB, or rather parent company SAB-Miller, doing this?

Okay.. Foster’s glory days are long over. Nonetheless it’s fair to say it remains an iconic beer brand recognised globally as Australian.

So has CUB learned nothing from the consumer backlash when they did this to VB? Remember CUB’s letter of apology in the press when they ‘fixed’ it?

Have they not checked their history and wondered at the demise of other strong CUB brands like Abbots Lager, Reschs Pilsener and Brisbane Bitter when alcohol was sneakily reduced?

CUB has recently cut the alcohol content of Cascade Premium too.

Perhaps Foster’s Lager is set to be yet another discount brand fighting on price. Call me nostalgic but that would be a sad end to this famous brand.

Cost cutting your way to growth
There is only one reason this is happening of course. It’s to reduce the Federal Excise the brewery has to pay which is based on alcohol content. Okay .. it’s the job of business to reduce costs. Consumers understand that.

What they don’t understand is a decision to ignore them and to reduce the essential ingredient and, invariably, the taste of a brand they prefer – or used to prefer.

SAB-Miller’s global webpage says it has “A commitment to growth.” Perhaps they’ve not heard the marketing truism which states “you can’t cost-cut your way to growth.”

However I suspect those making such decisions at CUB are not listening: certainly not to consumers. Pity.cheers

 

03 November
1Comment

VB reborn or VB back to the future?

I like the new VB advertising.

Not because it goes back to the ‘good old days’ but because of the relevant, fundamental beer values it appeals to. Marketing/advertising jargon would probably refer to beer drinkers’ special ‘need states’ like ‘thirst’ and ‘reward for effort’ etc etc. Whatever ..

Unlike Carlton Draught’s recent effort, of which I was under-whelmed because it was just a joke with a brand attached, I’m impressed with VB’s new TVCs.

Previous brand management of VB at CUB decided that the blue-collar, ‘reward for effort’ message for VB was worn out.

There was no doubt that, like other brands, it needed to be refreshed and updated. But not trashed! To throw decades of equity out and reposition it with the benign (nil need state) ‘The drinking beer’ .. well enough said.

So is it VB reborn or VB: back to the future? Enjoy the new TVCs while you ponder that question.  Cheers!