linked in facebook twitter rss

  • Interbrand
  • Brandchannel

your chance!
your chance!


  Beer Brands and Homelands -- Edwin Colyer   Beer Brands and Homelands -- Edwin Colyer  Edwin Colyer  
Beer Brands and Homelands -- Edwin Colyer It's a hot, sunny afternoon. The barbecue is ready to be lit; but before you find the matches, sit down and enjoy a few sips of your favorite beer.

Now you are relaxed, let your mind wander as the taste triggers memories and emotions. Where do you go? What places do you picture when you drink?

Your afternoon reverie may take you far away from home but chances are that you'll associate a country with your beer too. Whether you are into obscure imports or something mainstream, most beer brands like to tout their country of origin. We all know that Guinness comes from Ireland, Corona is Mexican and Budweiser is a truly American brand.

"When it comes to identifying with a country, after flags, national anthems and national airlines comes beer," says Martin Lindstrom, a brand strategist from Denmark, the home of Carlsberg. "The advantages are very clear. It is what you would call free branding—leveraging a country's brand rather than building your own."

Simon Anholt, brand consultant and author of Brand New Justice, agrees that the country of origin is an essential part of beer branding." Beer is the classic product parity market," he says. "Manufacturers are driven to intangible brand product features. Using the country of origin as part of the brand equity is essentially free, so you avoid having to build something up laboriously over decades. So long as you can credibly establish a connection between you and the place, then it is a good idea."

Both Anholt and Lindstrom draw parallels in the automotive sector. They argue that if you were shown two identical cars and told that one was made in Turkey, the other in Switzerland, for example, you would immediately think that the Swiss car was better." But it is different with beer," Anholt notes. "The little, poor places can produce good beer. A Jamaican car is probably no good, but Jamaican beer, well that sounds good."

Mainstream and niche products all free ride on their country of origin brand. For a long time Foster’s used a kangaroo in its advertisements, while Lapin Kulta, from Lapland in Finland, relies heavily on its unusual provenance in its marketing. Images of Finland’s stark landscapes adorn communications material and bottle labels.

South African Breweries Limited realizes that its national origins are important at a corporate level too." We have embarked on a corporate branding campaign to highlight the identity of SAB Limited," says Michael Farr, the company's communications manager." The purpose is to strengthen the emotional attachment with our core market. Research conducted since the company's global expansion showed that the consumer was having confusion between SABMiller and SAB Limited. We felt it was important to encourage South African consumers to recognize SAB Limited is still the company they have always known."

The corporate brand campaign from SAB Limited was fiercely patriotic. A two-minute TV commercial paid tribute to the South African nation and praised the country's achievements over the last 10 years. The ad ends with some of the world's greatest landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty and the Sydney Opera House, sailing into Cape Town's Table Bay to symbolize international recognition for the country. SAB is unashamedly tapping into strong emotions and a proud heritage.

"Beer is sold on the story of its brewing heritage and you can't tell that story without tying it to the country of origin," says Anholt.

Farr agrees, "We deliberately emphasize the heritage and history of the beers we sell, otherwise you end up with generic beer and no appeal."

As the SAB TV commercial aptly demonstrates, however, brands that incorporate a country of origin are built on stereotypes. Surely consumers are a little more sophisticated?" Marketing is all about stereotypes," says Anholt. "The only relationship you can have with the consumer is pretty superficial—you can only communicate through clichés and stereotypes. You can't expect to be profound."

"Just because they are a cliché doesn't mean they are not true," argues Lindstrom. "To be patriotic is clichéd. You just have to be careful with one's choice of clichés so you don't risk audience weariness."

That's probably one reason why the Foster’s kangaroo has disappeared. The brand is still indisputably Australian, but consumers (including probably most Australians) were tired of the idiotic antics of the extrovert marsupial.

Given the success of country of origin branding in the beer sector, Lindstrom suggests that other industries should also consider the benefits." Consumers are too exposed to commercial messages. The only thing that marketers can leverage is emotions. In a world where people are well traveled, you are also buying into emotion. If they've been to a country and had a good experience then when they see a brand from that country they are often buying into an emotion, not the product. Country of origin branding is a cheaper bypass to build brand equity in a strong and reliable way."

Swiss watchmakers certainly know the value of their "Swiss made" brand. The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry actively polices all uses of the term and has strict guidelines on how it may be used on clocks and watches.

There are always dangers, especially when countries or famous citizens start behaving badly. The American brand, for instance, has suffered considerably abroad during the Iraq conflict, as did French products when President Chirac was vociferously anti-war. But the downside is usually short-lived.

Anholt says that country of origin branding might also help some of the impersonal multinational corporations to connect with consumers once again." A few years back, following mergers and acquisitions, companies were desperately anxious to be seen as global. It became apparent that it may make shareholders happy, but consumers don't like it. They need to know where companies come from. Successful global brands need to be sold everywhere but come from somewhere."

Nevertheless, it will still be the brewers and food manufacturers that probably rely most on this technique." Food has been the main vehicle between people in the past," says Lindstrom. "You taste food, bring it back and remember a certain country or area. It is hard to tell products apart, so tying in strong emotions to differentiate products is important."

"The country of origin is nine tenths of the magic," argues Anholt. And you thought it had something to do with the brewing process.    



Edwin Colyer is a science and technology writer based in Manchester, UK.

 commenting closed Add Social Bookmark bookmark  print
 suggest topic  recommend ( 11 )  email

  brandchannel home archive   2013  |  2012  |  2011  |  2010  |  2009  |  2008  |  2007  |  2006  | 2005  |  2004  |  2003  |  2002  |  2001
Dec 19, 2005 Cava Uncorked: Sparkling Interest Abroad -- Joe Ray
  Spanish sparkling wine brand Cava competes with Champagne on cachet but keeps costs at a level to be enjoyed every day.
Dec 12, 2005 School Reform: Branding for Extra Credit -- Edwin Colyer
  As state schools begin to specialize in the UK, they must teach prospective students what their brand stands for.
Dec 5, 2005 Hot Shops: Retail Revamps -- Alicia Clegg
  It’s not enough to offer a sale anymore. These days retailers are creating theater to draw customers into a complete brand experience.
Nov 28, 2005 Virtual Packaging Lacks Sense -- Randall Frost
  Products sold online lack the benefit of three of the five senses. How does the lack of touch, smell and taste affect consumer shopping behavior?
Nov 21, 2005 A Competitive Edge in a Cutthroat Market -- Slaven Marinovich
  Close shave: The cutthroat business of trademarks in the world of wet-shaving equipment manufacturers sharpens between Gillette and Wilkinson Sword.
Nov 14, 2005 Fidelity and McCartney: Mutually Invested -- Renée Alexander
  Celebrity endorsements: When ex-Beatle Paul McCartney joins forces with Fidelity Investment do consumers suddenly want to buy mutual funds?
Nov 7, 2005 Rendering Your Brand in 3D -- Vincent Grimaldi de Puget
  An opportunity to wrap customers in the complete brand experience starts at the front door. What is environmental or retail branding and why should we bother?
Oct 31, 2005 Capitalizing on Creative Differences -- Edwin Colyer
  In the saturated field of consumer goods, what is it that makes a new product really fly?
Oct 24, 2005 Branding, a Job Well Done -- Dale Buss
  How do major brands like Costco and Ritz-Carlton become household names without relying on traditional advertising? By tapping into their greatest resource: Employees.
Oct 17, 2005 Attracting a Positive Market -- Cristian Salazar
  HIV treatment medications must confront a difficult subject and still offer hope. A competitive analysis of how various drug companies approach the market.
Oct 10, 2005 Marketing and Tweens: BFF -- Alycia de Mesa
  Brands target the narrow but lucrative demographic of the tween.
Oct 3, 2005 Packaging Your Brand's Personality -- Randall Frost
  What's in the box? A well-designed package should convey the brand's personality.
Sep 26, 2005 Product Placement: Making the Most of a Close-Up -- Abram Sauer
  Product Placement: Are you getting the best exposure for your brand?
Sep 19, 2005 Lose the Jargon, Voice Your Brand -- Rob Mitchell
  Companies need to listen to their inner voice.
Sep 12, 2005 Assigned Reading: Branding Gets Credit at University -- Edwin Colyer
  Universities take a tip from the corporate world in trying to brand their institutions.
Sep 5, 2005 Has French Wine Outgrown the AOC? -- Joe Ray
  Is AOC bringing clarity to the French wine industry or just causing more confusion?
Aug 29, 2005 Sambazon Squeezes into the Juice Market -- Dale Buss
  Will consumers get juiced up for Sambazon?
Aug 22, 2005 Counting on Your Brand's Name -- Chris Grannell
  Running the numbers: Brands like 3 Mobile, neuf and 118118 seek to differentiate from their alpha competitors.
Aug 15, 2005 The Myth of Authenticity -- Alicia Clegg
  How important is authenticity in your brand story? Brands like Häagen Dazs and Baileys Original Irish Cream stretch the heritage myth.
Aug 8, 2005 Hotel Brands Break the Chain -- Rob Mitchell
  After decades of perfecting the known experience at chains around the world, hotel brands are now trying to create boutique hotels as guests go on a quest for the one-off experience.
Aug 1, 2005 Naming: Entering the Chinese Market -- Doris Ho
  How will your name be received in China?
Jul 25, 2005 Best Global Brands: Focus on UBS -- Robin Rusch
  Among the top five fastest growing brands on the list of 100 Best Global Brands 2005, Swiss financial services company UBS reflects the work in progress of growing and sustaining a global brand.
Jul 18, 2005 Magazines Circulate Their Brand Licenses -- A.K. Cabell
  Magazine publishers like Ebony mine their brand awareness for licensing opportunities.
Jul 11, 2005 GE Imagines a Greener Future -- Ron Irwin
  What can GE learn from Shell’s past experiences as it implements a commitment to the environment called ecomagination?
Jul 4, 2005 Brand Gamble: Mergers and Acquisitions -- Alycia de Mesa
  The marriage may be made in heaven, but did anyone check with the children? Mergers and acquisitions can be great for business but lousy for the customer.
Jun 27, 2005 Brands Suffer Youth Indecision -- Edwin Colyer
  Cheatin' heart: Youth are fickle, lacking loyalty, and high maintenance. Why do brand owners target them so heavily?
Jun 20, 2005 Growing Pains Small Brands -- Alicia Clegg
  How can a brand remain true while broadening its reach? Popular but small brands like Innocent Drinks, Tyrrells and Hill Station risk losing their original fans in their quest to grow bigger.
Jun 13, 2005 That's Rich: Redefining Luxury Brands -- Edwin Colyer
  As the masses rush to acquire luxury does it negate the original prestige of the premium brand?
Jun 6, 2005 Oops, I Merchandized It Again -- Alycia de Mesa
  Popular musicians say forget the concert or the album, the real money is in the merchandise.
May 30, 2005 Brands Go Beyond Product Placement -- Edwin Colyer
  Brands like BMW and Stella Artois team up with film directors for mutually beneficial branded entertainment sponsorships and partnerships.
May 23, 2005 Favored to Win: Branding professional sports -- Alycia de Mesa
  What does it take for an alternative sports league to win against the established national leagues?
May 16, 2005 Building Confidence in Your Brand -- Randall Frost
  What are the economic efficiencies of reaching confidence in your brand?
May 9, 2005 Is Fashion Design a Team Sport? -- Rob Mitchell
  Sports brands team up with fashion designers for a more competitive offering.
May 2, 2005 Local Success on a Global Scale -- Randall Frost
  How do huge global companies like Philips, McCain Foods and McDonald's achieve "multi-local" status?
Apr 25, 2005 Does Selling Science Take a Genius? -- Edwin Colyer
  The ultimate brand icon, Einstein is being used to promote every type of science initiative. Is this genius or mad?
Apr 18, 2005 Dove Gets Real -- Alicia Clegg
  Unilever’s Dove is the latest beauty brand to use "real" women to sell product. But can this campaign turn ugly?
Apr 11, 2005 Pharma Co-Marketing: Possible Side Effects -- Edwin Colyer
  When two pharmaceutical companies ally, so must their marketing efforts. Unfortunately, there’s no pill to make two competitors promotional partners.
Apr 4, 2005 Zen and the Art of Brand Maintenance -- Vivian Manning-Schaffel
  Disaster and fear offer hope to spiritual brand owners.
Mar 28, 2005 Is Ikea for Everyone? -- Elen Lewis
  Ikea reassembles only slightly to reach new markets.
Mar 21, 2005 Exposing Your Brand Internally -- Alycia de Mesa
  A brand is more than skin deep. Internal understanding of the brand is imperative to consistency in communication.
Mar 14, 2005 Churches Put Their Faith in Branding -- Edwin Colyer
  In doing god’s work, churches find themselves reaching beyond the congregation to spread the brand message.
Mar 7, 2005 Should Global Brands Trash Local Favorites? -- Randall Frost
  When P&G, Unilever and Nestlé clean house, they risk losing local markets for beloved brands. Companies like Henkel, on the other hand, retain a portfolio of national and international brands to satisfy both global and local tastes.
Feb 28, 2005 Fairtrade: The Business of Ethics -- Alicia Clegg
  The Fairtrade mark allows brands to identify as in support of fairness to trade and promotion of economic development in the world’s poorest countries.
Feb 21, 2005 brandchannel's 2004 Product Placement Awards -- Abram Sauer
  Awards and commentary for the best and the worst of 2004.
Feb 7, 2005 Anti-Globalization: Are You Serious? -- Edwin Colyer
  Is anti-corporate sentiment a real threat to brand owners? What does the activist movement want and what benefit (if any) is that to the corporation?
Jan 31, 2005 Readers Pick Apple in 2004 -- Robin D. Rusch
  Apple, Google, Ikea, Starbucks and Al Jazeera: Brandchannel readers choose the brands that had the most impact on them in 2004.
Jan 24, 2005 Putting You in the EU -- Dafydd ab Iago
  Selling Europe: The EU has a constitution, now all it needs is citizen support and interest.
Jan 17, 2005 Branding with Chinese Characteristics -- Edwin Colyer
  Western brands hoping to break into China need to reconsider their brand identity and positioning for the local market.
Jan 10, 2005 Cars Make Inroads Online -- Edwin Colyer
  Automakers take risks online with co-branding and interactive options not seen offline.
Jan 3, 2005 Local to Global: Easy as 1-2-3? -- Randall Frost
  JetBlue and other smaller regional brands strive to disprove the Rule of Three.