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Keg-less: Guinness reclaims lost pints with ‘MicroDraught’ dispense solution


By Imogen Watson | Senior reporter

June 10, 2021 | 6 min read

Anyone who likes a Guinness knows it’s all about the serve. There’s even an Instagram account with the sole aim of pointing shame at badly-poured pints, while another account ‘beautifulpints’ documents expert pours. Only you need a specific Guinness keg in order to do so.

Guinness has spent the best part of two years developing the 'Guinness MicroDraught'

Guinness has spent the best part of two years developing the ‘Guinness MicroDraught’

With the knowledge this prevents a lot of establishments from stocking its beer, Guinness has spent two years developing a crafty ‘MicroDraught’. Billed as the biggest technological innovation since the widget in 1988, it can be used in lieu of a traditional keg.

“We see this as the ability to bring the Guinness draft to places and spaces that we haven’t been able to reach around the world because of the complexity required to deliver pints, in terms of kegs, setup and gas lines,” explains Grainne Wafer, global brand director, Guinness at Diageo.

“Our ambition for this is really significant. We believe this is a world-first and it allows us in terms of our global journey to extend out to markets where we weren’t able to bring Guinness draft before.”

The Drum breaks down Guinness’s marketing strategy:

How will it work?

  • Guinness has spent the best part of two years developing the ‘Guinness MicroDraugh’. It claims the beer is brewed in exactly the same way, only instead of kegging it in traditional larger kegs that are used in a standard bar set-up, Guinness Draught beer is delivered in unique cans, which can be slotted into the Guinness MicroDraught unit.

  • Described as the world’s first patent-pending double coaxial piercing of the can, the machine uses an air pump (as opposed to a traditional gas cylinder) to push the liquid out of the can and through the standard Guinness Draughts spout.

How is it being rolled out?

  • Guinness says the initial launch will see it in 12,000 outlets throughout the year. To put that into context, there are presently 8,000 pubs in Ireland.

  • Guinness MicroDraught will be trialed in Fridays restaurants in the UK this month, in venues in Ireland from July and fully launched in Korea in July, with further trials in the United States, China, Hong Kong, Germany and Russia.

  • Korea is Guinnness’s sixth biggest market in the world, with almost 20 million pints consumed annually by 3.7 million people. However, 90% of those pints are enjoyed at home, which explains why it has chosen Korea as the location of its full launch.

How will it market?

  • “Primarily the MicroDraught system is for use in bars around the world, so our marketing strategy is really direct to our bartender and our public audience,” explains Wafer. “We are introducing it with full bar training and using our Guinness ambassadors around the world to introduce it to make sure that we’re creating the right buzz in outlets.”

  • Wafer adds that while this is primarily a B2B marketing strategy, there is potential for Guinness to devise a similar appliance to be used by drinkers at home. “Consumers, particularly over the last year, have increased consumption at home,” she says. “So we’re looking at a wide range of innovation that will allow us to meet all of those needs in the home. And we’ll assess whether this is part of that at the right time.”

Why is this significant?

  • Like most drink companies, the forced closures of restaurants and bars cut company profits nearly in half for the fiscal year ending in June 2020. Before the pandemic’s onset, one in every 10 pints served in London was a Guinness, per Diageo. So, as it looks to bounce back, Guinness is looking to increase that even more.
  • And things are already showing signs of recovery. Diageo saw stock prices jump about 4% in the UK market last month, following an announcement that $1.4bn (£1bn) would be paid to shareholders by the end of June 2022. Diageo also said it expects operating profits to rise 14% in the full fiscal year.

  • Something to celebrate, last month it brought out #LooksLikeGuiness to commemorate the return to the pub after the UK’s third lockdown. “As fans of the brand ourselves, we started to miss the iconic black pint so much that we began seeing them everywhere, in the most mundane objects,” explained Jack Watts and James Cambridge, creatives at AMV BBDO to The Drum. “Because the pint is so visually familiar, you can’t avoid seeing it when you have it on your mind.”

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