Exclusive news and research on the wine, spirits and beer business

News Briefs for July 1, 2011

July 1, 2011

•Fast food chain Sonic is set to introduce beer and wine to two of its South Florida locations. Sonic’s brand new Homestead outpost, located in Miami-Dade County, will reportedly make beer and wine offerings available to consumers dining on the patio, while its Fort Lauderdale location will offer the alcoholic beverages only to indoor diners. Neither location will extend the offerings to consumers in cars. The company said no launch date has been set and no plans have been made to extend alcohol sales outside South Florida.

•The free trade agreement taking effect today between the European Union and South Korea is being heralded by Scotch whisky marketers as a big opportunity for the industry. The deal eliminates Korea’s 20% import tariff on spirits, and Scotch is the largest imported category. While local white spirit soju still accounts for around 97% of Korea’s spirits market, the country already ranks sixth among Scotch export destinations by value and ninth by volume, at £153 million ($246m) and 35 million bottles (around 3 million cases) respectively. With tariff costs now out of the equation, Korean consumers, already enthusiastic about Scotch (particularly premium blends like Johnnie Walker and Chivas Regal), may soon be trading up to the category in significantly greater numbers.

•Heineken USA is unveiling new “Be a man of the world” positioning for its Heineken Light brand. Created by Wieden+Kennedy New York, the new campaign includes TV ads starting today, which were developed to align with Heineken Lager’s recent “Legends” TV campaign. Heineken Light got off to a quick start in the U.S., hitting 9.6 million (2.25-gallon) cases in 2007, its second year on the market. Since then it’s slipped, however, falling 12% to 2.8 million cases in IRI channels in 2010. Meanwhile, parent company Heineken NV has cut a multimillion-euro contract with Google, under which Google will distribute Heineken’s ads on its YouTube subsidiary. The deal includes access to Google’s vital user data— including user preferences and Google searches—and spans 20 countries, including the U.S., Western Europe, and select emerging markets like Mexico. Heineken currently spends less than 5% of its €2 billion ($2.9b) advertising budget online, but expects digital’s share of its spend to continue growing.

•Chicago-based MillerCoors will move production of Molson Golden and Molson Ice from Toronto, Ontario to its Trenton, Ohio brewery. According to a memo sent to the company’s distributors, there is little demand for the two labels in Canada, so the move will allow the brands to be locally managed and produced closer to consumers. Molson Canadian will continue to be made at the Toronto location. MillerCoors’ Trenton brewery already oversees production of many of the company’s brands and produces almost 10 million barrels of beer a year.

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