In order to do this, the company has restructured its marketing department as it looks to drive sales of Carling north of the border – a difficult sell against the heritage brands of Tennent’s and McEwan’s.
Over the years Carling has chipped away at the Scottish market, most successfully with its sponsorship of Celtic and Rangers, which has been seen as one of the chief factors in ‘breaking’ Scotland and reaching its key consumer audience of 18-34 year olds.
In Scotland the company is looking for ‘significant growth’ and this year plans a total investment, including advertising, in excess of £7m.
Paul Miller, sales director of Coors in Scotland, has implemented a wide-reaching sales and marketing restructure that is only the beginning of its drive to reach a 15% market share by 2011.
“We feel that over the next three years there is a real opportunity for us to develop our business further, in the main by recognising the challenges which are facing our customers,” begins Miller. “We’ve looked at the market, we’ve looked at the challenges which are facing our customers and we’re trying to understand what their needs are and how we can best support them.”
The company will, first of all, aim to drive people back into pubs, with numbers falling in recent times for various economic and social reasons, including the introduction of the national smoking ban. “There are so many alternatives for consumers,” Miller explains. “It’s easier for them to stay home and sit on their high-interest sofas that they’re paying off and watch their flat screen TVs. It’s up to them to make that choice, but we believe that it is really important that the pubs recognise that consumers have that choice, and it’s up to the outlet to offer a quality experience.”
He continues: “There’s no point in just supporting our brands in the pub. What we’ll be looking to do through web-based and local media is attract people back into pubs and, once they’re there, we’ll be supporting them by making sure that have the right glassware, merchandise and that they are able to handle to the quality support.”
To do this, the company has employed 12 brand development executives, new roles in Scotland which will serve to drive the Coors brands across free on-trade, wholesale supplied and multiple on-trade, as well off-trade multiples and convenience channels. Their focus will be on enhancing brand awareness, visibility and driving consumers into outlets.
The new team will be fully operational from next month and one of the first objectives in early Spring will be to ensure that the company supports the on-trade of Magners, which saw growth last year following its introduction in the draft sector.
The second focus of the drive sees Coors aiming to restore the credibility of beer, through its ‘British Barley’ campaign: “The second key focus, aside from driving people into pubs, is on restoring the credibility of beer,” continues Miller. “Beer is a category which is not fully appreciated by the trade or consumer. It’s a significant player in our UK economy and one of the things we’ll be highlighting are the ingredients of beer and where it comes from.”
Meanwhile, recent press speculation has reported that the company will look to withdraw its sponsorship of the two Glasgow football giants and while Miller denies this is the case, he does admit that no plans have yet been drawn up to renew the sponsorship either, saying simply that the matter will be discussed in the coming weeks.
“There’s a healthy mix of utilising our sponsorship of the Old Firm to the maximum in Scotland. At this stage it is too early to say as we haven’t concluded any deals,” he explains before hinting that music will be involved in future strategies – in some shape or form. This fits in with rumours of a rival event to T in the Park, which has been quietly mooted following the events that Coors supported last year and Carling’s sponsorship of music “Academies” in the UK.
Miller is quiet on this point but admits that something will be announced soon. The company will also use more traditional marketing routes such as TV and outdoor as well as through-the-line work on-trade as well.
Coors Light will be an important product for the company in the second and third quarter of the year, according to Miller, which will be supported by an above-the-line campaign, created by The Leith Agency.
So, next time you’re in the pub and you have a choice as to what lager you’re going to buy, Coors may hope you respond by asking for a Carling. With this new investment in its brands, the question is…will you?