The brewer is developing beers to exploit what it claims is growing demand “for lower ABV alternatives in the on and off-trade across the UK. It is banking on the fast-developing middle ground for drinkers to attract a younger audience as well as set it up for future growth.
Fuller’s innovation blitz will also expand its craft beer range following the launch of its first “new wave craft lager” Frontier earlier this year. Initial reactions to the brand have been “encouraging”, according to Fuller’s and it will launch another before the end of the year to try and capitalise on the early momentum. Both brands are to be supported by a social media push to recruit online beer enthusiasts in the coming months who will be used to drive sales via word of mouth.
The upcoming beers are to be sold at a premium to other lagers and ales, as they are costly to make. Fuller’s, however, is implementing on a social media platform that allows its pubs to monitor what people are saying about them online in real-time so that it can create tactical Facebook and Twitter promotions in response to drive repeat visits.
Wade Crouch, Fuller’s head of marketing told Marketing Week the business believed offering a more personalised experience for beer fans across its pubs through technology could help lift sales. The brewer needs to “be better at managing the online space” after relying too much on traditional channels to grow its brands, he added.
He says: “We’re trying to move the conversation with customers about our pubs to real-time areas because the best marketing is what you tell your friends. This is where personalised offers – through social media, unique codes and our ECRM work around our “Fine Ale Club” – are really coming to the fore. We’re doing some proximity work with O2 so that when people walk past our pubs they are served with unique offers.”
Elsewhere, the brewer is preparing a long-term push for flagship brand London Pride to crowdsource stories from Londoners about their tales of the city. It aims to flip the brand’s recently revamped focus on its heritage to a platform that is more interactive over the next two years.
The changes at the brewer are the result of a marketing-led business strategy being put in place over the last 14 months. The move aimed to make its brands more consumer driven, according to Crouch, rather than “relying on our brewing expertise” to develop new products and stimulate demand.
The brewer, which has around 400 pubs across the UK, revealed revenue for the 52 weeks to March 2013 jumped 7 per cent to ￡271.5m. Like-for-like sales over the same period rose 2.1 per cent.