US. Heineken makes room for Dos Equis

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The producer of Heineken beer is only too happy to make room on U.S. store shelves for an upstart Mexican brand.

Heineken NV’s flagship beer has lost U.S. market share to the likes of Belgium’s Stella Artois over the past five years, according to Euromonitor International data. Now it’s getting a boost in its fight against the competition with its fast-growing Mexican beer brand, Dos Equis, which Heineken acquired in 2010.

Dos Equis is “our shining star” in the U.S., John Nicolson, the head of the company’s Americas unit, said in an interview.

Heineken, the ubiquitous Dutch beer sold in the U.S. since 1933, has been attempting to regain lost ground with a new global marketing campaign, and by pushing its brand more aggressively in bars and restaurants.

The Americas, including the U.S. and Brazil, is Heineken’s second-biggest market after Western Europe, accounting for 23 percent of the brewer’s $10.9 billion first-half sales.

Dos Equis is on a tear. Sales of the brand, named for the two Xs on its label, soared 17 percent in the quarter through October, compared with Heineken’s 1 percent sales decline and industrywide declines of about 2 percent, according to research by Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Trevor Stirling.

At the core of Dos Equis’s success is a highly effective marketing push, Nicolson said, including its “Most Interesting Man in the World” ad campaign, featuring the tales of one worldly man’s experiences — and the catchphrase “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis.”