Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Beer of Choice in Many Bars Around The World, Gone Flat in the Country of its Birth

Hey, Stella? It's Getting Really Hard to Find Belgium's Most Famous Beer - in Belgium. 
By: David Marcelis. Sept. 16, 2016. 10:51 AM ET
Blog post by: Angie De La Cruz

In a supermarket beer section in Belgium a few Stellas sit at the bottom right. 
Stella Artois, Belgium’s best-sold beer worldwide has gone flat in its own birth country.  The beer, which was once Belgium's undeniable market leader, had only 6.5% market share last year, according to David Marcelis. Back in the days the brew was so popular in its home country, it was even served in the local McDonald’s. But its positioning and image began to diminish in the early 1980s and by the 1990s Stella Artois was “the beer parents would pick” according to Fabrizio Bucella, a Belgian zythologyst.  McDonald’s stopped selling it in the early 2000s and replaced it with a newer, more popular beer. Since then its demand has kept on decreasing and now days it is even difficult to find in local bars and restaurants, while no marketing efforts are evidenced. In contrast, the pilsner is currently enjoying more popularity than ever abroad. According to the market research firm Euromonitor International, ­ US Stella sales have more than quadrupled in the past decade. And this goes in hand with noticeable marketing and advertising efforts such as product placement in Hollywood productions, billboards in Times Square, and ads in the US Open. 
As we have learned in our course, global marketing requires a lot of effort and time in order to enter and succeed in new markets. However, when reading this WSJ article some questions have come to my mind: Is AB InBev focus abroad positive or negative for the brand? Will their lack of interest in their home market be reflected in their sales and positioning abroad in the future?  Karen Couck, AB InBev communications director, responded to this situation by saying that they are currently  “trying to build a brand internationally but also really revive it in Belgium.” It seems as if the lack of demand in their home country has finally got to them. Will it be too late? If there’s something I think we should learn about this case is that it is important when implementing global marketing strategies not to forget about the in-house marketing. Learning to balance both will probably be healthier for the brand brining more stability, strength, and value to the company. 


  1. Great article Angie! I believe the balanced approach is the way to go for long term, sustainable growth. That's very surprising how low the popularity gotten their home country- I know many people like imports for variety, but feel like in the U.S. the domestic brews will most likely hold most of the market share due to intense marketing and alignment with sports like football. It has to be challenging to grow/maintain the domestic market while trying to grow rapidly internationally though. This was very interesting!

  2. This is a really interesting look at how brands can start to feel dusty and old, and I love the comment, "the beer parents would pick." That is incredibly telling on how "uncool" something can become in a market. However, this might not be worth putting too much thought into, if the international markets are still holding and growing, then the company can continue to live on through different target markets.