Guinness ‘on a quest’ for brand growth with craft variants

Guinness is hoping to take advantage of the growing popularity of craft beer with the launch of two new variants, backed up by a £5m marketing campaign, as it embarks on a ‘quest’ to grow the Guinness brand through innovation despite a chequered history of product launches.

The two new beers – a Dublin Porter and West Indies Porter – are both available in the pubs and clubs as bottles and on draught and in stores. They are being supported by a campaign that will run across outdoor, social media and point-of-sale and which highlights the brewer’s history and the beers’ flavour.

Guinness says the new beers are the first step in a “significant commitment to brand growth through innovation”. Dubbed “The Brewers Project”, it will see a group of brewers given license to explore new recipes, reinterpret old ones found in historic brewers diaries and collaborate to introduce new beers.

The brewers will also feature in a new TV ad that aims to showcase the real stories behind the Guinness brand and includes footage of the small test brewery at St James’s Gate in Dublin. It will air for the first time today (15 September) to promote Guinness’s “In Pursuit of More” series of short documentaries that aim to offer an insight into the people behind Guinness.

Stephen O’Kelly, marketing director for Guiness in Western Europe, says: “St. James’s Gate is a community of people driven by a passion for brewing and advancing the high bar set by previous brewers over two centuries ago. We’re proud of our past achievements and we’re excited about those to come. We felt it was time to open the gates and let the world see the people who make our beer special.”

Guinness estimates that the new beer launches will contribute £58m in incremental sales value to the premium ales category over the next two years.

UK Beer sales have been falling in recent years, down 3.1 per cent in the first quarter of this year, according to figures from the British Beer and Pub Association.

However, there has been a renewed interest in craft beers, typically produced by smaller breweries, a trend that Guinness owner Diageo is keen to tap into it, especially after Guinness sales fell by 5 per cent globally in the year to 30 June.

However, Guinness has had potted success with new variants in the past. Guinness Red, a slightly smoother and sweeter alternative to the mainstream brand was launched in 2007 but pulled shortly after due to lacklustre sales.

Beers including Guinness Brite lager and ale, Guinness Light, Guinness Shandy and Guinness Cream Stout were also launched and then withdrawn.

Diageo joins a growing list of major brewers, including SAB Miller and Molson Coors, increasing efforts to grow the appeal of their craft beers. The Campaign for Real Ale estimates that 170 new breweries opened last year, taking the total up to 1,285 in the UK, as younger drinkers in particular look beyond the major brewers.

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