Heineken tries ‘stubby’ bottles to fight imports

Whitbread is planning to scuttle cheap French beer by bottling its Heineken lager in “stubbies”, the smaller, foreign-style bottles.

Industry experts say there is an increasing trend towards sales of multipacks of French lagers, such as Bière de St Omer. Tesco’s top-selling beers during the Christmas period were the 24-bottle cases of Bière d’Or, sold at the knockdown price of 4.99.

One source says: “The French stubbies are good ‘barbecue fodder’ – for example, they are popular with women because of the smaller volume. They have a perception of quality, because the alcohol-by-volume is about 4.6 to five per cent and they are also seen as being quite cheap.”

Another insider says the success of Heineken stubbies will depend very much on price.

“This is a price-driven market. If these multipacks are pitched too high they just won’t sell, even if they do have the Heineken brand,” he says.

Whitbread will launch the Heineken stubbies nationally in June for its standard lager, Heineken Cold Filtered.

Last year, the company re-launched its standard Heineken lager in time for the Euro 96 football championships with new packaging and advertising.

There was no one available for comment at Whitbread as Marketing Week went to press.

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