AB InBev ramps up ‘Stella Artois not Stella’ on-trade push to drive sales

AB InBev is ramping up a marketing initiative that encourages bar staff to refer to Stella Artois by its full name and not “Stella” after crediting its contribution to a 4.2 per cent year-on-year lift in UK volumes in the third quarter.

AB InBev is expanding a nationwide push to promote the quality and craft of the Stella Artois brand.

The brewer’s “Connoisseurs Programme” launched in February to promote the quality and craft of the beer in more than 1,000 pubs and clubs across the UK.

The quarterly sales jump added to an overall revenue  boost by around 10 per cent in the participating outlets in the months since it first launched. The brewer plans to double the scheme’s the size in 2014 claiming it can help outlets increase sales by up to 12.3 per cent.

The strategy sees the brewer focus on encouraging people to drink the beer in Stella Artois chalices with bar staff given financial incentives for using specially branded skimmers, glassware and drip trays. It is a change in direction from the brewer’s previous on-trade activity, which used point of sale merchandise but did not educate drinkers about the brand. The shift to a more experiential strategy has “changed consumer perception towards how Stella Artois should be served”, the brewer adds.  

The strategy is aimed at positioning Stella Artois alongside more premium alternatives such as Peroni and craft beers, which have prospered despite the continued decline of the country’s pub industry. Sales in pubs and clubs fell 1.2 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter, according to the British Beer & Pub Association.

To drive growth, Stella Artois along with Heineken and Molson Coors are turning to technology to woo drinkers with NFC and real-time marketing initiatives.