Pearls in the portfolio Heineken Beer has been the most-sold import beer in the U.S. for decades. No wonder, then, that Van Munching devotes a lot of attention to its jewel in the crown. But the other brands are also pearls in the portfolio; Amstel Light, Buckler, Murphy's Irish Stout, each and every one of them strong brands which have alreatiy built up a posi tion on the beer market (Amstel Light) or are busy making rapid advances in the non-alcohol and stout segments. Amstel Light, introduced in 1980, was not instantly a resounding success. At the end of the 1970s Leo van Munching Jr. observed that an imported light beer would have a good chance of success in the U.S. In the mid-1970s a local light beer had been put on the market and that was developing favorably, so why not an imported light beer? The Heineken brewers set to work and developed a light beer with 95 calories and an alcohol content of 3.5%. It was decid ed to market the new beer under the Amstel brand name and not under the Heineken name, given the risk of can- nibalisation of the Heineken brand. During its first three years Amstel Light showed steady, but slow growth. According to Leo van Munching Jr., the slow start was due to the fact that a completely new seg ment had to be developed. Slowly but surely, the American consumer start ed to appreciate the full-bodied fla vor of the imported light beer. The advertising campaign based on the slogan '95 calories never tasted so imported' contributed to the product's success. By the end of the 1980s Amstel Light had not only gained market leadership in the import light segment but also held a proud sev enth place in the top ten rankings of imported beers. In the past two years a major com petitive battle has arisen between the light beers of the local breweries, resulting in a big price war. According to the distributor, Boening Brothers in New York, the price com petition between the local light beers has squeezed the growth of Amstel Light. "The image of Amstel Light is excellent, but many of the activities of other local brands have not done Amstel Light any good." In recent years light beer has changed in the consumer's percep tion. Van Munching's Vice-President Marketing, Chris Vuyk: "Traditionally, the lower calorie count was the main reason for drinking a light beer. In the past few years that has changed. Light beer has become a modern 'party beer' because you can drink more of it. We are currently assessing the implications for the Amstel Light communication." Murphy's Just like Amstel Light, Murphy's Irish Stout - launched in the U.S. in 1991 - got off to a slow start. Chris Vuyk can, however, see plenty of opportunities for Murphy's Irish Stout and is optimistic about the future of Murphy's: "It is potentially a strong brand. We are now particularly strong in the Irish American community. THE WORLD OF HEINEKEN

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World of Heineken | 1994 | | pagina 68