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Building a winning brand in Ghana

Market research, consumer testing and an inspired brand relaunch have helped turn Castle Milk Stout into a best-selling Ghanaian brand, and transformed the fortunes of Accra Breweries Ltd (ABL).

Things were different in 1998 when SABMiller acquired a majority share in ABL. The company was struggling, with attempts to cut costs and boost efficiency making little impact on bottom line profitability. A driver for growth was needed urgently.

On first inspection, Castle Milk Stout was an unlikely candidate. In a mature West African stout market, long dominated by Guinness stout, Castle Milk Stout, introduced in 1999, scored low on taste and richness in market testing.

The ABL brand team realised that these perceived weaknesses were potentially the brand’s greatest strengths. A milder, smoother taste experience appealed to consumers, testing particularly well against lager brands.

In 2001 the brand was relaunched through a radio and TV campaign targeted on the mainstream ‘wind-down’ segment. Packaging and pricing strategy were rethought too. Breaking with the convention that says stout comes in 330 ml bottles, a distinctive 625 ml bottle was introduced. Consumers loved the larger size, nicknaming it ‘The Boss’. An equally bold move saw the team pitch Castle Milk Stout pricing structures against mainstream lagers.

The reinvention of Castle Milk Stout has changed a beer market traditionally dominated by lager into one in which stout now accounts for 55% of total sales. The 625 ml bottle is responsible for 75% of Castle Milk Stout sales while the brand holds a price premium over mainstream lagers and has achieved 1,648% growth since 1999. ABL’s total market share has climbed from 18% to 32% in two years, helping this once loss-making company record a healthy profit for the 2004 financial year.

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Consumers enjoying a glass of Castle Milk Stout
 
Consumers enjoying a glass of Castle Milk Stout
 
 
Castle Milk Stout distribution in Accra
 
Castle Milk Stout distribution in Accra