Product: Foster’s Super Chilled, the Tarka super cold fount, Jacques etc
People behind it:
Name: Stuart Catchpole and the S&N innovation team
For the past five years, Stuart Catchpole has been building an innovation team at Scottish & Newcastle and spreading the innovation culture throughout the company. Sarah Warby, S&N UK marketing director, used to be innovations director, reporting to Catchpole. Industry experts say that Heineken and Carslberg – which bought S&N for £7.8bn – were as attracted by its product development as by its figures or stake in Russian brewer BBH.
Perhaps Catchpole’s greatest achievement was to spearhead the development of the Tarka technology behind Foster’s Super Chilled (in conjunction with technology firm Scotsman Beverage Systems) and so help kick-start the whole ultra-cold serve beer market. Catchpole and his team can also claim credit for Jacques and other drinks aimed at women and for the new Foster’s Scuba in-can widget.
Foster’s Super Chilled was introduced in May 2004 as part of a “cold war” with Carling’s Extra Cold variant, launched early 2003. Foster’s already sold ultra-cold beer, but marketing had focused on delivering a perfect head. To overcome Carling’s lead, Foster’s had to offer a distinct advantage. The Super Chilled fount was developed (at a cost estimated at around £9m) to deliver beer consistently three degrees colder than rivals.
How it fits
S&N’s innovation team appears to have taken on a number of lessons. First, if you are launching against an established leader, as when Foster’s Super Chilled took on Carling Extra Cold, you have to demonstrate a real advantage that means something to the consumer. Second, having a superior system is no good if you market it badly – you have to be able to explain it to the target audience in language they understand.