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AB InBev May Gulp Down SABMiller as Heineken Holds On to Independence

Posted by Dale Buss on September 15, 2014 03:52 PM

AB InBev is shaking the beer industry up like a tumbling can of Bud, as the No. 1 company reportedly is considering acquiring No. 2 rival SABMiller and taking the consolidation route toward improving profitability in the face of almost-impossible odds of growing its empire by selling more beer.

What was for certain on Monday was that No. 3 Heineken said that it spurned a takeover approach from SABMiller, etablishing that the Heineken familiy that controls the Dutch brewer intends "to preserve the heritage and identity of Heineken as an independent company." A merger of the industry's Nos. 2 and 3 players, of course, would have made such an entity much more formidable against AB InBev at a time when the volume-beer industry continues to contract.

Bloomberg reported that SABMiller attempted to corral Heineken in part out of fear that AB InBev indeed is stalking it. "That SABMiller's inorganic [growth] optoins have been so publicly lessened puts ABI in an even stronger position, should it choose to make a move on SABMiller," Eddy Hargreaves, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity, said in a note today. "SABMiller shareholders may be even more likely now to welcome a bid."Continue reading...

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Chick-fil-A Enhances Brand Story with Rollout of Thrive Farmer-Direct Coffee

Posted by Dale Buss on September 5, 2014 10:47 AM

Chick-fil-A's new THRIVE Farmers Coffee menu is what the chain calls "coffee with a story." But the new line of Central American coffees that are supplied directly by farmers actually embodies four stories.

It's a story of the fast-food brand shoring up a glaring weakness in its menu; it's the story of Chick-fil-A making a bold move in the fast-food sustainability derby; and it's the story of a brand taking advantage of the opportunity to divert attention to a kind of sublime value and away from its controversial recent history of taking a hard line on socio-political issues like gay marriage.

And, of course, its fourth story is the one that Chick-fil-A is concentrating on as it rolls out THRIVE coffees to its 1,800 US restaurants, sharing how the partnership is helping actual Central American farmers boost their incomes and their families' wellbeing compared with traditional distribution models for coffee.Continue reading...

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Coca-Cola Life Tiptoes Into UK, US, Amid Hopes for Mid-Calorie Sodas

Posted by Dale Buss on August 25, 2014 06:46 PM

Coca-Cola has reached a couple of significant milestones as it advances Coca-Cola Life, the new "mid-calorie" soft drink in the revolutionary green can: Life is now on sale in Great Britain, and Coke is rolling out a massive sampling campaign for its US introduction this fall.

Life just became available broadly in the UK last week in supermarkets across the country, touting one-third less sugar and one-third fewer calories than regular Coke. Sweetened with cane sugar and stevia, it represents the company's most serious effort yet to determine whether there's a big market for soft drinks that are neighter zero-calorie weight-management tools nor fully sweetened, unapologetic vessels of sugary, fizzy, high-calorie refreshment.

In the United States, Coke has begun stocking shelves of Fresh Market stores in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and parts of Florida with Life. It plans to make Life available nationwide in October, Advertising Age reported, after Life was first marketed in Argentina.Continue reading...

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Starbucks Goes Four-Wheeling to Bring Brew to College Campuses

Posted by Alicia Ciccone on August 20, 2014 11:54 AM

Some college students heading back to campus in the coming weeks will be greeted by a new classmate—Starbucks. 

The cult coffee purveyor is rolling out three brew-serving food trucks at James Madison University in Virgina, Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina, and Arizona State University, which previously partnered with the brand on its education efforts. The trucks will be operated by Aramark, whose recent survey of college students showed Starbucks to be the No. 1 preferred brand for coffee, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

While the three selected campuses already have permanent Starbucks locations, the trucks, which will offer up a similar menu of food and beverages, are meant to move to various locations on campus as the day goes on and in some cases may be open later than a campus dining hall.Continue reading...

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Coke Debuts Virtual Assistant to Promote Share a Coke Campaign in UK

Posted by Dale Buss on August 8, 2014 06:22 PM

The moment of truth for beverage retailers has gotten more interesting in the UK as Coca-Cola Enterprises has rolled out a "virtual assistant" to provide a last attempt at persuasion.

Projected onto a life-size, thin screen by Tensator, Coke's virtual assistant "Isabelle" tells retailers about the success of the brand's can-personalization marketing campaign, Share A Coke, suggests how retailers can maximize shopper interest in their stores and plays a new Share a Coke TV advertisement.

The digital signage, which uses innovative HD projection and audio-visual technology, is being used at Dhamecha cash-and-carry depots in London.

Isabelle "is a creative and fun way to reach our customers with the campaign and is a piece of genuine digital innovation that we're excited to bring to the market," Simon Miles, digital director at Coca-Cola Enterprises, said in a statement.Continue reading...

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Critics Make a Dent in Coke's Can as Brand Steps Up Health Marketing

Posted by Dale Buss on July 31, 2014 04:04 PM

Things aren't going well for Coca-Cola these days. While the company still returned $47 billion in profits last year, that amount was down by more than $1 billion from 2012.

That may not seem like much of a problem, but as newly chronicled in places ranging from the cover of the new issue of Bloomberg Businessweek to a prominent story in this morning’s Wall Street Journal, minting profits—and sales—for Coca-Cola no longer is as simple as filling another bottle or can. The company and, especially, the brand are being hit with unprecedented resistance these days that is so stiff, some worry it ultimately could be existential for Coca-Cola.

Consumption of soda globally fell in the first quarter for the first time since 1999, though they rebounded in the second quarter; and the consumption slide continues in the US as the brand remains under assault from anti-obesity activists and politicians for its sugar and calorie content, while Diet Coke increasingly is suffering attrition as well because of concerns about aspartame. Meanwhile, new beverage startups in the flavored water and tea categories in which Coke has invested aren’t growing quickly enough to offset the continued losses in soda consumption.Continue reading...

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Starbucks is Killing It with Coffee, Mobile Payments and Overall Cool

Posted by Mark J. Miller on July 25, 2014 02:01 PM

While QSR brands across the board are wallowing in slow sales, Starbucks' third-quarter earnings tell a different story: the cafe reported $4.15 billion in revenue—an 11 percent increase from the same period last year. 

Crushing impending competition from Dunkin' Donuts and McDonald's, Starbucks only foresees further sales growth as it plans to raise prices on some of its drinks and packaged coffee in the US, CNBC notes. According to Time, “over the past five years, Starbucks’ same-store sales … accelerated and far outpaced those of Dunkin’ Brands, parent company of Dunkin’ Donuts.” In fact, Dunkin' and McDonald's may be doing more damage to each other than Starbucks.

But don't think that Starbucks has been taking the offensive lying down. The brand has been bolstering its food offerings thanks to its purchase of La Boulange bakery in 2012. That bakery’s products are currently in more than 1,000 Starbucks but are planned to be in 2,500 by summer’s end.Continue reading...

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Keep On Slurpin' On: 7-Eleven Celebrates 87 Years with Freebies All Week Long

Posted by Alicia Ciccone on July 10, 2014 11:07 AM

Ready, set, SLURP!

7-Eleven's Free Slurpee Day kicks off Friday, July 11 at participating locations where fans of the frozen, carbonated beverage will no doubt line sidewalks in hopes of snagging a free small Slurpee before supplies run out. But this year, as the convenience chain celebrates its 87th birthday, 7-Eleven is extending the festivities for an entire week (actually eight days).

Consumers that download and register with 7-Eleven's app will get access to special daily coupons from July 12 through July 19 for free snacks like M&M's birthday cake candies, free Hostess Twinkies, a Snickers or Twix-brand ice cream bar or a free Big Gulp soft drink.

The celebration marks the 12th year that the brand has given away the free drinks, which are celebrating 49 years of frozen goodness.Continue reading...

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