It's as Original as you are. i. J - MdL 16 started to grow. Particularly the decision by the IOC to hold the Olympic Games in the magical year of 2000 in Sydney was greeted with a feeling of national euphoria. Local si u IT National pride is also reflected in the Australian beer drinker's reserved attitude towards imported beers. When the author ordered a Heineken beer during his visit, he was told by a fellow-drinker that he ought to try some of "that local stuff'. Though slightly disparaging, the words were spoken with some pride: 'We can brew beer as well, mate!' The average Australian loves his beer and especially Aussie-brewed beer. Beer represents eighty-five per cent of all alcoholic beverage sales. This doesn't make it easy for imported beers: why, in fact, should an Australian pay a lot of money for a beer from Europe if Australian beer is at least just as good? Imported beers therefore account for a mere two per cent of the Australian beer market. And yet some dualism exists in the Australian's way of thinking. In fact, a European brewer who decides for cost reasons to brew his imported brand locally will be 'penalised' by the consumer. A European beer is perceived as high quality and so it cannot be brewed in Australia or thereabouts. The result of this dua lism is that imported beers are growing slowly in a market in which per capita consumption is declining. In 1987 beer consumption still amounted to 110 litres per head; five years later that had fallen to 95 litres. Recession The main cause of that decline was the economic recession. For several years now Australia has been deep in recession. Particularly the states of Victoria (capital: Melbourne) and New South Wales (capital: Sydney) were badly hit. Unemployment climbed to 11% and interest rates sky-rocketed. The result was a fall in disposable income, which also had a severe impact on the beer industry. Beer consumption showed an overall decline and con sumer preference started to shift towards cheaper beers. The local breweries responded to that demand for cheaper beer, firstly, by introducing 'B' brands and, secondly, by offering hefty price dis counts on their existing brands in attempts to maintain volume and market share. Graham Shonhan of Inchcape Liquor Marketing in Queensland (capital: Brisbane) has this to say about the expansion of the range: "Seven years ago there were about twenty different beer brands and pack formats on the market. At the present time one brewery already W r v Sy^V lot*. w has as many as 68 different brands and pack formats." Inchcape has always upheld the premium image of Heineken and was not willing to join in the major price- cutting war. Whilst the 1993 results were indeed lower than expected - also because the economic upturn took longer to emerge than initially thought - volume grew for the first time in five years. And the optimism of the Australian population about economic recovery has given Inchcape good hopes for sales in 1994. A vigorous government anti drink- drive campaign also brought changes in the beer market. The problem of beer drinkers who got behind the driving wheel had been a thorn in the flesh of the Australian government for years. Hard counter-measures were introduced. Fines for drinking and driving were raised considerably. Drivers who fail the breathalyser test, i.e. have a blood alcohol percentage of more than 0.05, can reckon on a hefty fine and the loss of their driving licence for six months. That is fol lowed by a three-year period in which the car driver is not allowed to drink a single drop of alcohol. If any subse quent breath test reveals even the slightest trace of alcohol in the blood the penalty is severe. During those three years 'on probation' a sticker has to be displayed on the rear win dow to make it clear to other road users that the driver has 'sinned'. This government measure has not only caused a decline in consumption but has also led to a dramatic switch to fight beers. At the moment light beers represent some twenty per cent of the total beer market, solely because of the measures taken to curb driving under the influence. Optimistic Since the second half of 1993 there have been clear signs that Australia's economy is beginning to claw its way upwards again; un employment is falling, as are interest rates. This development has given Mel Sherwin, Inchcape's national marketing manager, optimistic feel ings about the future. "Basically we'd anticipated that the economy would pick up earlier in 1993. Recovery has taken a little longer to arrive." Mel Sherwin is none the less happy about the revival. The recession meant that visits by consu mers to on premise outlets had decli ned in favour of off premise sales. Mr Sherwin is convinced that for a prod uct like Heineken image building and brand awareness can only be achieved in the on premise outlets. And for Inchcape, stimulating brand awareness plus rejuvenating the Heineken image is target number one. "Heineken had an old-fashioned THE WORLD OF HEINEKEN

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World of Heineken | 1994 | | pagina 16