Sol revisits its roots as it looks to cement itself in the ‘sunshine beer’ market

The Mexican beer brand is shifting its brand positioning in a bid to appeal to sun-seeking consumers, re-establish what it stands for, and take a larger slice of a category currently led by Corona.

Sol Beer is championing the sun in its new marketing campaign as part of a shift in positioning that the Mexican beer brand hopes will establish its position as a major player in the ‘sunshine beer’ market.

Joined by the likes of market leader Corona, alongside Modelo and San Miguel, the sub-category plays host to easy-drinking lagers, usually served in transparent bottles, from exotic origins.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Alessandro Manunta, portfolio development manager at Heineken International Brands, says Sol “wants to own the sunshine space” as he believes it will help accelerate the brand’s performance in a fast-growing segment where Heineken sees a big opportunity.

While sales of lager as a whole are down globally, Manunta claims this segment has seen double-digit growth over the last three years of 11%. “The opportunity for Sol is, to play a more central role within this segment,” he adds.

The campaign, which goes live today (1 November), shows Sol drinkers sitting in various outdoor social settings and physically chasing the sun, either by moving their chairs or fully relocating, each time a cloud or object casts a shadow over their location.

Designed to appeal to sun-seekers, the activation is also a nod to the brand’s Mexican heritage. The term ‘Sol’ is at times used as alternative to ‘sun’, hence where the name stemmed from.

“The sun was always in our origin, so we really need to look at what we stood for and go back to our roots to focus on that. Considering it’s a segment more and more consumers are getting into, it’s very important strategically,” Manunta explains.

“The space we want to own is the sun, and own it in a consistent way for the future. We feel it’s a very fertile territory and rich territory from a creative perspective. It’s also true to who we are and what we stand for.”

Despite Sol’s name, Manunta says consumers weren’t associating the brand with sunshine and it was failing to meet the key values of this beer segment, which prompted the shift in the company’s positioning.

“There was a little bit of detachment between what we were standing for and what consumers were seeing when they were buying from us,” he explains.

“We don’t believe our positioning would have really allowed us to grab this opportunity in the sunshine segment. We were growing but not as fast as we wanted because we weren’t talking in a relevant way to consumers.”

Launching a campaign that celebrates sunshine in November is all well and good if you live in the Southern Hemisphere. But in the UK it is only getting colder and the demand, in the short-term anyway, will likely be for drinks associated with colder weather such as mulled wine and Baileys.

However, Manunta says while the campaign’s release date coincides with the South American summer, Sol hopes it can bring a little bit of sunshine to the UK.

We don’t believe our positioning would have really allowed us to grab this opportunity in the sunshine segment. We were growing but not as fast as we wanted because we weren’t talking in a relevant way to consumers.

Alessandro Manunta, Heineken

“We didn’t want to miss out on summer in the Southern Hemisphere because South America is a huge market for us, but what we know from our own research is it’s terribly relevant talking about the sun in markets, like Britain, where the sun is not something they have the fortune of enjoying every day,” he says.

“When we looked into our previous campaigns we realised they often come out strong in the UK because the sun is something people tend to look for during winter.”

Sol has also given markets within the Northern Hemisphere permission to use the campaign at a later date, which may align with warmer weather.

In terms of success, Sol will measure growth by looking at brand awareness, its image and its ability to link its connection to sun, as well as sales growth and market share.

“We are not the market leader, the leader is Corona, but we are absolutely growing,” Manunta adds.

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