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Stella Artois
£466.8m Growth: -6.3%

While the latest addition to the Stella family, Cidre, enjoyed a spectacular debut season, the original Stella Artois has been having a tougher time.

In May, brand owner AB InBev denied the slump was related to cannibalisation by the newcomer of the wider stable, or the reduction in Stella’s abv (it was cut from 5% to 4.8% in January). The decline, it said, was down to a drop in promotions on Stella in such a deal-driven category. The Grocer reported that the proportion of Stella sold on deal fell from 80% in Q1 2011 to around 60% in Q1 2012, with the typical savings on Artois deals also falling below the industry average.

As to Cidre, AB InBev said the brand had created only “very low” cannibalisation. “The successful launch of Cidre and new Cidre Pear has brought great excitement to the cider category,” adds European marketing director James Watson. “The launch has contributed positive incremental growth to the category and has complemented the performance of the overall Stella Artois family.”

It seems there is no radical plan to turn around sales, but Watson says Stella will continue its strategy of driving brand engagement through ads, targeted promotions and social media activity. “The excitement around Stella Artois is set to continue throughout 2012 with the continuation of the Cannes Cinema Club screenings, a major off-trade promotion with an instant redemption mechanic, and the return of the popular Christmas limited- edition pack,” he adds.

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£389.7m Growth: +1.2%

While other brands have shifted emphasis to product cues and brand heritage in their ads, Foster’s has opted to stick to the old lager marketing mantra - “make ‘em laugh”. In fact, it’s staged a virtual coup d’état of the comedy industry, resurrecting The Fast Show and Reeves & Mortimer online, backing the Edinburgh Comedy Awards and putting its name to Channel 4’s original comedy programming. Just about the only nod to the brand’s heritage is the presence of funny Australians in its TV advertising.

Taking into account the impact of higher beer duty, a 1.2% sales increase isn’t spectacular - and volumes were still down - but any value growth in the struggling standard lager category shouldn’t be sniffed at. A year ago, the gap with Stella was £113m in annual sales now it’s down to just £77m, and that doesn’t include the £30m achieved by Foster’s Gold in its first year (it comes in 69th).

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Smirnoff Red Label
£335m Growth: +10.4%

Innovation, big budget ads and Madge, Queen of Pop, are just a few of the things Smirnoff can thank for its continued growth. Specifically, a lime & cola variant joined the brand’s premix line-up the launch of Smirnoff Vanilla last autumn was backed with a £1m outdoor campaign and Madonna joined the ongoing Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project.

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£334.7m Growth: +3.5%

Owner Molson Coors will aim to consolidate its solid margin growth in 2013 by continuing its campaign repositioning Carling as ‘Brilliantly British’, with a focus on brewing heritage and ingredients rather than its trademark blokey humour. New-look packs aim to raise its retail visibility, and the brand will also want to capitalise on extensions Chrome and Zest.

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£263.9m Growth: -3.4%

To say it’s been a disappointing year for Carlsberg would be a major understatement. Volumes have slumped and value sales have followed suit. But it hasn’t all been doom and gloom for the brand - over the past 12 months Carlsberg has gained a national listing for its 30-pack, and it’s expecting to record a significant sales uplift this summer thanks to its sponsorship of Euro 2012.

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£261m Growth: -0.4%

Once again volumes fell, but a £4.5m spend on packaging and marketing for its Nottage Hill brand has helped Hardys avoid a significant dip in value sales - a performance Accolade says it is “happy” with given the macro pressures in Australia. It plans to update the stamp-inspired look of its limited-edition wines this summer, and to focus more on its William Hardy brand.

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Blossom Hill
£260.6m Growth:+0.4%

A flat year for sales, but the Californian brand is hatching plans that could see it bag the top spot for wine. Its highest-ever media spend - on press, radio, outdoor and digital ads - will be supplemented by its entrance into the fashionable 5.5% abv segment with Blossom Hill Vie. PoS material with recipe ideas from celebrity chef James Tanner should help, too.

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£256.2m Growth: +4.5%

Budweiser won the FA Cup last year - the sponsorship rights to it, that is - which helped sustain Bud’s progress. Plans for 2012/13 include lots of football-related activity, such as more limited editions to follow the success of its FA Cup-themed pint cans, and a national ad campaign supported by an online Track Your Buds provenance message.

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£239.2m Growth: -1.4%

Following a decline in sales over the past year, Strongbow was overhauled last month with new packaging and a lower abv, down from 5.3% to 5%. Heineken hopes its new apple-based design and ‘earn it’ strapline - plus, as The Grocer revealed, this month’s launch of Strongbow pear, backed by a £10m cross-platform campaign - will help to hit the spot.

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£190.5m Growth: +10.3%

Budget vodka Glen’s has had a steady year, but whether it can grow sales over and above duty hikes is another question. The looming arrival in Scotland of a minimum unit price of 50p would hit Glen’s in its heartland, adding an estimated £2 to the price of a bottle - though it’s possible this could help the brand by levelling the playing field with own label.