In recent years, the main growth in the South African market has been in the premium segment. After a pause during the economic downturn, the premium market has resumed its growth and continues to offer attractive, long-term potential. It currently accounts for 17% of South Africa's beer sales and the figure looks set to rise.
However, the segment has become extremely competitive. Determined to fight back hard in the premium market, SAB has refreshed its leading premium beer, Castle Lite, and created a more distinctive positioning and a stronger reason for consumers to buy the product.
In identifying a 'big idea' for the brand, the business looked to lessons learned elsewhere in the group and chose to make 'cold' the defining characteristic of Castle Lite. It then launched a comprehensive programme to own this particular space in the market.
As well as emphasising Castle Lite's premium credentials with new packaging and point of sale material, the business created an upbeat, cold-themed TV campaign featuring the American rapper, Vanilla Ice. It also supplied over 4,000 attractively styled, extra-cold fridges to its retailers. These were supported by an integrated 'through-the-line' campaign in which visual cues in the advertising (the extra-cold beer being lifted from an extra-cold fridge, for example) were re-triggered through billboards, packs, merchandising and other points of contact with the consumer. In an innovation borrowed from Coors Light in the USA, the product now features a thermochromatic label that turns blue when the beer reaches the optimum low temperature.
Castle Lite has responded well. Since the 'cold' programme began, the previous decline in sales has been stemmed and growth has kicked back in with volumes more than 8% up on the previous year. Despite formidable competition, Castle Lite remains the largest brand in South Africa's premium sector.
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