|Agency: Lowe Lintas||Authors: Pete Brown|
Stella Artois: Reassuringly Profitable
Stella Artois is an unlikely giant. Drinkers regard it as premium and niche, set apart from the noise of the beer market. Yet the brand is huge. Its offtrade salesIn 1976 Whitbread began brewing Stella under licence in the UK and launched it in their pubs on draught, effectively establishing the premium draught lager market. Whitbread were happy to have Stella as a profitable niche player, selling 60,00070,000 barrels a year. Offtrade sales are straightforward, but sales through pubs are difficult to follow. Nielsen have tracked the offtrade for many years, but have audited the ontrade only since 1995. Alternative sources provide a broad sales picture over a longer period, but not the detail. Many figures are therefore only available from 1995.To frustrate things further, as the market changes so must research methodologies. Both advertising tracking and brand image and awareness studies have changed fundamentally over recent years, limiting the potential for longterm comparisons. And it is involving to watch (): 'Recall of the advertising was very detailed among both drinkers and nondrinkers alike: for example, 'There's one, where the son works hard to buy a pair of red shoes for his mother and then gets tempted to a pint of Stella. He gives the shoes to the waitress for a pint and repairs his mum's shoes with a beer mat instead.'Justin Kent, Stella Artois qualitative advertising evaluation, 1999 While the biggest brands can expect higher scores because they have more drinkers, we can discount this effect and show that Stella still achieves far higher scores than expected for its size.