The take-home boss of Britain’s biggest brewer says a speciality beer will be in the top 10 beer brands within the next decade.
Stuart MacFarlane, off-trade sales MD for Stella Artois brewer InBev UK, has forecast that the company’s Leffe Blond brand will be the one to make the breakthrough in the growing speciality beer sector.
InBev has been supporting Leffe above the line for the first time in the past 12 months, but it is still thought to be behind its stablemate Hoegaarden wheat beer in the market.
MacFarlane said: “They’re both strong brands but the work we’ve done with consumers suggests Leffe is more accessible and has more opportunities for occasionality. It took Stella Artois
10 years to have a significant impact in the marketplace. Leffe was launched six years ago and is ahead of where Stella was after the same amount of time.”
MacFarlane added that InBev’s leading international brands such as Beck’s and the Brazilian brand Brahma could expect to see more emphasis in the future.
InBev launched the imported Brahma earlier this year and took UK distribution and marketing for Beck’s in-house two months ago, ending a licensing deal with Scottish Courage.
MacFarlane said: “We’re still getting to know the brand and love it like it’s one of ours, but there will be a lot more activity on Beck’s this Christmas than there was with Scottish Courage last year.”
He insisted that Castlemaine XXXX, Tennent’s Lager and Boddingtons would continue to be supported in the UK as “key local brands”.
MacFarlane said that he expected Christmas trading on beer to be characterised by a platform of sustained retailer promotions accompanied by some “short, sharp shocks”, similar to Somerfield’s two cases for £16 deal during one week this summer.
Nigel Huddleston