Anheuser-Busch InBev has lined up a push for Stella Artois in China as it looks to up the presence of its global beer brands in the country.
Stella Artois, which has had “a small presence” in China “for some time now”, has been rolled out recently in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, the company has confirmed to just-drinks. Stella Artois follows its sister brand, Budweiser, into the market as A-B InBev focuses on super-premium opportunities in China.
In an exclusive interview with just-drinks this month, A-B InBev’s CMO, Chris Burggraeve, detailed the brewer’s approach in the emerging market. “(In China) we have a portfolio approach, whereby we focus on three key brands, Burggraeve said. “Budweiser leads the premium segment, which was developed from scratch over the last ten years and is growing twice as fast as the overall beer category in China, (which is) already the biggest beer market in the world.
“We also focus on Harbin, a local brand from the north, which is the oldest beer brand in China,” he said. “With Harbin, we’re looking to build it into a national brand. That will take time, but things move much faster in China than they ever did in the US and Europe. Finally, in the south, we have Sedrin. That’s the regional powerhouse that we will keep regional in that area.”
Burggraeve added that the roll-out of Stella Artois will be very concentrated. “You’ll see Stella Artois (in very selected places) in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou,” he said. “In these cities, you have a group of consumers who are looking for super-premium. We trialled the brand at last year’s Expo in Shanghai – more than 70m people went to Expo over six months! So, there is a clear demand in China for super-premium and for a global brand that delivers that.”
Also in the interview, Burggraeve discusses the challenge of making – and maintaining – a global beer brand, counters the charge of cost-cutting regularly levelled at the company, and highlights A-B InBev’s CSR efforts as it has made the move from big brewer to become the biggest.