It is asking designers and technology companies to come up with ideas on the glasses Heineken should be served in, the look of the bottles and the design of bar pumps. The brewer is hoping the activity will lead to both men and women feeling more comfortable about drinking beer instead of spirits on a night out.
Heineken is also asking designers to submit samples of their work to Tumblr to source ideas on building a concept lounge bar. The pop-up space will then be showcased at Milan Design Week in April 2014 before being set-up in other cities.
The move is the latest from the brand’s global Open Design Explorations initiative and aims to steal on-trade sales from vodka and spirits brands. Since launching last year, the initiative has led to new bottle designs, branded bar environments and music tracks.
Mark van Iterson, global head of design at Heineken, told Marketing Week the brand wants to give people a more “tangible” experience that reflects the aspirational themes promoted in its ‘Open Your World’ marketing strategy.
He adds: “We’re not expecting beer sales to immediately rise. This is a longer-term move that will allow us to change the perceptions of beer and nightlife through design. Nightlife is a difficult territory for beer because it is having to compete with cocktails and champagnes that are seen as being more premium.
“From the insight we’ve got, we know that people would like to drink beer in these situations but they don’t feel comfortable walking around with a traditional bottle or beer glass. You need to have design closely tied to your marketing to achieve this otherwise people will feel the brand is not genuine.”
To support the push, Heineken is speaking to bar owners about selling a range of ‘Beer Fusion’ cocktails it has developed.
It is part of a wider strategy, launched last year in partnership with Iris Worldwide, to position the business as design-led, in a similar way to Apple or Audi. Much of the activity centres on Heineken’s Ideas Brewery, an “open innovation platform”, to encourage fans to share ideas and feedback.
The activity comes just months after the business revealed full-year revenues rose 7.4 per cent to €18,4bn (£15.9bn) in 2012, despite volume sales from its on-trade business suffering. The brewer says innovation projects it has launched over the last three years now represents €1 billion, or 5.3 per cent of revenues.