Brand Image Making

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Date Submitted: 11/20/2011 08:09 PM

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lFrom “Reassuringly Expensive” to “Wife Beater”

Stella Artois was first introduced to the UK in the early 1970s, but the brand started to take off in the 1980s as people bought into its premium positioning (Benady, 2008a). Since then it has become the UK’s number 1 lager with the biggest market share, with Carlsberg closely behind (Singh, 2008b). Behind its success was the ‘reassuringly expensive’ slogan that positioned it as a premium brand, which appealed to consumers (Brand Strategy 2008, p.34). The success of its advertising led to its ubiquity. However, having 5.2% ABV and being sold at discounted prices both on and off-trade, Stella Artois was being consumed by ‘armies of lager louts’ instead of the sensible up-market drinker (Benady, 2008a). As a result, Stella Artois’ advertised sophisticated premium image was in conflict with the reality of its consumption (Brand Strategy 2008, p.34). Inbev UK’s ambition to maintain their status as market leader caused them to overlook the adverse effects that discounts had on its flagship brand, thus acquiring the ‘wife beater’ moniker which almost irreversibly damaged their carefully engineered brand image.

External Pressures: The Wife Beater Fiasco

‘Markets or customers are driven towards wanting certain products and services. Political, economic, socio-cultural and technological (PEST) influences all impact upon the nature of customer wants and needs,’ (Proctor 2000, p.3). As a result, they affect the way corporations behave. Changes in any environment will prompt a corporation to adapt accordingly in order to survive. In regard to InBev UK’s Stella Artois case, changes in the socio-cultural, economic and political/legal environment led to a crisis.

Socio-Cultural Environment: The Wife Beater

Stella’s 5.2% ABV was wellknown among consumers, and although advertised as a premium lager, in reality it was often bought by binge drinkers for its strength and its advertised ‘premium’ status. It was only in 2007 that...