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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Beyond the bottle

One of Britain’s biggest selling bottled beers has branched out into brave new territory – and it has ‘winner’ written all over it, writes Richard Taylor

Corona, along with its other sunshine beer amigos (think Sol, San Miguel, Carib) has taken the bold step to venture into the unknown and launch its first draught tap beer across the UK. As the depths of Winter fast approach, we can for a split second be transported to our last amazing sunshine beach retreat. Sunshine beers are now a fabric of our Great British society and Corona has become a ubiquitous staple of our alcoholic drinking rituals. At the same time, as we’ve seen the huge rise in craft ales at the expense of the old school mild pint, we also now see many people looking for a lighter tasting lager beer. Corona is just that, it’s the lighter tasting lager with universal sex appeal, an appeal that its brand owner, Budweiser Brewing Group, will be keen to take advantage of. Brewers have for decades struggled to convert and steer women away from wine and into beer, especially in the on-trade pub on the high street. This new draught format is one step on Budweiser’s journey to further democratise beer, post the craft ale revolution for men. This bold and beautiful new draught tap strikes me as Budweiser’s strategic play to further target more women into its business and steal some of wine’s share of the market. The new Corona font looks like it is straight out of a Hollywood movie set; slimline, sleek, stylish, beautiful, iconic, etc. It’s simply stunning. And you can see the love, care and thought that has gone into its production. A beautifully lit movie star Corona logotype sits atop of a super slim and sleek silver font, with the golden sunshine beer bubbling away middle and centre, taking you to that instant hit of refreshment on the beach. The brand then has a row of limes lined up (think of those orange juicing machines on holiday with their cage of oranges plucked and ready to be squeezed within an inch of their lives) to be sliced and placed atop of the specially designed pint glass. A pint glass that looks simply like a Corona beer bottle with its neck lobbed off retaining the equity we all know and love. How many of us have seen glasses that you can buy like this from bottles that have simply been chopped at the top, I think my wife may even have bought me a kit to do this very task that’s still buried in the depths of my man cave. I digress, all of the brand’s assets have been retained: stunning use of logotype – tick, golden sunshine beer refreshment hero – tick, bottle to glass shape – tick, lime ritual – tick.

It is a big move for a brewer to invest such a huge sum in R&D to bring us a new format of a much-loved product, but as we have seen, 99 percent of new product brand launches fail. The NPD that succeeds these days is in the main borne from a brand we know and love that has extended into new formats. Our latent memory structure of a brand means we don’t have to take a quantum leap to a new product format like this, think KitKat to KitKat Chunky, ironically recruiting men into this brand for Nestlé.
I can only stand up and applaud Budweiser for taking this brave and bold step into the unknown, taking a swing of the bat and seeing if they land a home run. It feels like the right move for the business strategically and the Corona brand can only go from strength-to-strength on the face of such an exciting new way in which we can consume this much-loved sunshine brand. Viva La Corona!

Richard Taylor is Managing Partner of brand design agency Brandon Consultants.

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