Caledonia Best boss: 'We want it to be Scotland's favourite beer'
Scottish brewer Tennent Caledonian today unveiled its new ale, Caledonia Best. Commercial managing director, Steve Annand, spoke to The Drum about his ambition to make it Scotland's favourite pint. You've just taken the wraps off your new beer. How are you going to be promoting it to Scottish drinkers? Firstly what we are doing is introducing it to our customers. We’ve got some customers into the brewery today and we’ve also got communication going out from the telesales centre as well. That’s how we’re going to get it out there into the marketplace by the weekend. Our website [created by Whitespace] goes live today. That tells the messaging behind the provenance of the ingredients and what the brand is all about. The critical thing, and we know this from our own experience with our existing ranges, is the in-outlet execution. It’s vitally important that people see the brand and get a real feel for what the brand is about. We have extensive point of sale materials [designed by Multiply] going into support installs. From bar and strip mats, bar staff uniforms, right upto outdoor signage and some bigger items for beer gardens etc… The logo style dates back to a marque you had in the 80s. How have you and your design agency JKR updated that for the present day? The marque was originally for Caledonia Ale. The first thing we’ve done is made that Caledonia Best which is more current and contemporary. We’ve looked at the lion and brought the lion upto date if you like, it’s a new age lion, and we've added the banner from Wellpark Brewery so drinkers know where the beer is coming from. You've stressed that all the ingredients come from Scotland and this is brewed under Scottish skies. I'm guessing Scottishness will be at the heart of your marketing... The point of sale shows the malt and barley, it shows the grain on there. And we have got some shots of the farmers we’ve been working with. They’re going to be at the heart of it. We've run consumer research groups and the thing that came from that is that people were looking for choice, firstly. When we actually did blind taste tests people loved the liquid. Consumers are looking for more choice but it’s not just about choice, they want quality. Flavours is a major part of that. Typically the Scottish palette is a wee bit sweeter. Getting the blend of the right types of malt and barley, and the right hops, gives it that sweet taste. You've talked about the 'quality' of this beer. Does that mean it's going to come with a premium price tag? In terms of pricing, we are never the cheapest in the marketplace on any of our products. We believe in the quality of our products. Pricing is a little bit dependent on the market: the market is extremely competitive. We’re not going to be going in on the bottom rung of the ladder. Consumers, our drinkers, are willing to pay for quality. It also allows the retailer to make margin as well. Everything needs to be aligned on that so there’s a quality product that people are willing to pay a little bit more for, but when they’re watching their pennies they know they’re getting quality. When will Scottish drinkers be able to get a taste of this? It’ll be going out into pubs and bars this weekend. Our fitters are ready to go today and tomorrow. Over the next couple of weeks we want to get it into bars across the country ahead of the festive period. It’s not just about banging it out everywhere we think it’s going to work. It’s about putting it into outlets where there are ale drinkers, beer drinkers, that are gonna demand a bit of choice. What is the ambition for Caledonia Ale? In terms of our aspiration, we want it to be Scotland’s favourite pint of beer. We need to have some sort of scale and distribution, but we’re not just going to put a blanket install programme out there because it needs to be right for the outlets as well. It’s going to be a very tactical install. We work very closely with our customers who tell us what gaps they have on the bar. This is why we’ve brought this beer to market. We’ll actively look to get the right distribution to ensure the product sells, to ensure it’s got the right quality when it actually ends up in the drinker’s hand. Are there any particular areas of Scotland you will be targeting? Any specific places where there is more of a demand for ale? It tends to be more the type of outlet [rather than the location]. Community-led and traditional pubs, social clubs… all of those have typically been ale-drinking environments. But with the renaissance of ale and beer we’re seeing it coming more and more into the city centres and into the younger venues, and actually having an ale choice in there is why we’ve brought this brand to market. We think this will appeal to not only the customers who have city centre bars but also the younger consumers coming in that are actually more aware about ale and beer than ever before. What is behind that renaissance? That is driven by the provenance and craft movement in beer, and people actually wanting to know what produce they are eating and drinking. The internet and beer blogs where people are rating beers and talking about where the ingredients come from, the heritage, beers that are new on the market… that has driven the younger generation to get involved as well. Looking a bit further ahead, what other marketing plans do you have for the brand? We’re going to move towards TV in the new year. The most important thing is getting the product out there and available before you move to TV. There is nothing more frustrating than advertising a product and then not being able to find it anywhere. We’re going to grow a bit of critical mass first, work with our customers to get it in bars and then really start to push it into the new year.