Grolsch on impact of Asahi takeover and its digital ambitions

Grolsch on impact of Asahi takeover and its digital ambitions

It’s only been two months since Grolsch officially became part of the Asahi beer portfolio, but already the Dutch beer brand is leveraging the Japanese company’s experience in the premium drinking sector and hopes to use Asahi’s beer portfolio to “accelerate” its international expansion drive.

Asahi agreed to buy both Grolsch and Pilsner from AB InBev in April as part of the brewing giant’s takeover of SABMiller, with Grolsch joining the Asahi family in October. And while it’s still early days for the brand, it is already exploring how it can use Asahi’s footprint across the globe to push forward it’s expansion, despite being “the new kid in town”.

Specifically, in the Japanese culture we are still very much the new kid in town,” Ronald van Amerongen, global brand director at Grolsch told The Drum. “Our ambition to build our global presence will absolutely continue… we believe that we might even be better positioned than ever to do that. The reason for that is of course we are now part of the Asahi portfolio and the overall Asahi portfolio is even wider, and all these brands are positioned in the top segments of the beer market.

“All of these brands have also proven to be able to attract premium drinkers, so we can really focus on the high end of the beer market with our compete portfolio and that of course creates a very focused culture and a focused way of building premium brands through consumers who are in to drinking premium beers.”

Aside from expansion, Grolsch is working on a digital marketing transformation and recently appointed Wunderman to place the channel at the heart of its global efforts. The strategy will focus on “social drinking occasions” with digital content being produced over “hard advertising” going forward. Grolsch is also investigating how it can ink deals with publishing partners to push out the new work.

“Mobile is the land of opportunity for everyone, but we will be focusing on the content and story part of that rather than on plain advertising and bombarding everyone with our messaging,” said Antoinette Hoes, chief executive at Wunderman Amsterdam. “So, think more content creation than pure hard advertising. We are also interested to see what partnership opportunities might arise that make better use of that mobile space. So, I can imagine that we move in to a publishing partnership on the ground in local markets but that is still all to be seen.”

Grolsh has been looking to heighten its digital offerings over the past year or so, investing in its own content platform called Canvas to sustain its credibility and engage creative customers.

Earlier this year it partnered with Dutch jean brand Denham, as part of a wider strategy to align the brand with craft and creatives.

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