Brand extension – according to the unforgiving records of history – is one of the hardest parts of Food & Beverage New Product Development to get right.
So how will InBev do in 2011 as they stretch the Stella Artois brand from lager to into cider to try to capitalise on the fast growing consumer trend for the taste of alcoholic apple?
Well, they have many things in their favour:
Critical will be the consumer experience – if consumers enjoy the taste and it compares favourably vs Magner’s and Bulmer’s – it’s in with a chance. But if it fails to delight at the so called ‘second moment of truth,’ when consumers taste it, Cidre will be short lived – there’s already too many strong brands in this category.
To my mind the biggest risk (and it’s a HUGE one, given the value of their brand) is the danger to the Stella Artois brand. If InBev and their agencies manage to retain the character of the brand as they extend its reach – especially to women – they are set for a strategic winner.
However, if they dilute its character and pull it too far from its established visual equities this could be an apple drink with a very bitter taste. I fear that they may have broken their story. They’ve always spoken with such conviction about their long heritage. Are consumers to believe they’ve always been brewing cider too… but they’d kept it to themselves until now?
Brand extensions work when they deliver even more of what their consumers love – solving another need in their lives, but they fail when they destroy the singlemindedness of the of the parent brand.
Let’s hope for InBev’s sake that this apple hasn’t fallen too far from the tree.
Read more from Alan Lodge at the Drinks Business.
Read the news article in the Daily Telegraph.