visited each of the
company’s brand’s
dedicated hospital-
ity area, sampling,
among others: Newcastle Bombshell, one
of its 2013 seasonal offerings; Indio, the
edgy, urban newcomer to the portfolio;
Dos Equis Ambar and Lager on draft;
Tecate Light and Tecate displayed in bright
red-and-silver cans; Strongbow Hard Ci-
der on tap; and Amstel’s Wheat Bier
line extension.
But the star, pun intended, of the
evening’s reception was the debut of
Heineken’s new Star Bottle, graced with
complementary packaging. The new,
sleeker bottle, adorned with two red
stars now—one centered on the label as
before, the newer one close to the top of
the bottle-neck—drew delighted verdicts
of approval from Heineken USA team
members from Maine to Maui.
As Chris Natale, president of Ritchie
& Page Distributing Company in Robins-
ville, NJ, sees it, an essential ingredient
behind the brand’s renaissance is that
“Heineken USA listens to our ideas.”
Natale says he has experienced a refresh-
ing degree of openness when dealing with
the company. With inspired management
further supported by strong, creative mar-
keting and amplified by consistent in-field
support, the two-way partnership between
importer and distributor literally turbo-
charged the flagship beer’s sales in 2012,
while simultaneously energizing the rest
of Heineken USA’s portfolio.
No Resting on Laurels
After welcoming Heineken USA’s
distributor partners to the Phoenix
convention center on the morning after
the opening reception, Scott Blazek
issued a call to action: Accelerate! While
congratulating the upbeat crowd on last
year’s achievements, Blazek went on to
stress that it will be essential to build on
the momentum of 2012.
Blazek proudly acknowledged the
multiple awards for the importer’s
advertising campaigns; Heineken’s multi-
platform media tie-in with the James Bond
; double-digit sales surges for
its Mexican brands; the strong growth
of Newcastle Brown Ale and its popular
seasonal brews; the 2012 launch of Indio;
and, last but not least, the vibrant ascent of
its Strongbow Hard Cider, the number-one
imported hard cider in the world.
But that was last year. Seizing the mo-
ment, Blazek declared: “2013 is year of
pivotal opportunity, especially with the
national rollout of the new Heineken Star
Bottle, which is a once in a lifetime chance
to really talk about the brand.”
Next up to the NDC stage, Dolf van
den Brink, Heineken USA president and
CEO since 2009, observed that the cur-
rent marketplace is tougher than ever.
Wine and spirits marketers continue to
put pressure and take share from malt
beverages, and imported beers continue
to be squeezed on one side by crafts and
on the other by new entries from re-ener-
gized domestic brewers. He emphasized
the need to communicate the “import
opportunity story” more successfully
in 2013.
In van den Brink’s diplomatic but
firm appraisal, the nation’s retailers, res-
taurateurs and bar and tavern owners all
need a bit of reminding that imported
beers account for a vibrant, growing and
highly profitable segment of the U.S.
beer market. Notwithstanding all the at-
tention paid to the latest local artisanal
brew, imports are an almost overlooked
category by some merchants. Brands like
Heineken, Amstel Light, Dos Equis and
Tecate definitely rotate faster than crafts;
indeed, van den Brink argued that im-
ported beers, when compared to crafts, ul-
timately account for even higher margins
and a larger share of profits for re-sellers.
Looking forward, he outlined three
key challenges for Heineken USA brands:
a numbing sameness to most beer advertis-
ing; the proliferation of craft beers; and di-
minished trade execution in the imported
beer segment.
To Accelerate, Innovate!
That said, for Heineken USA, the essential
fuel to accelerate is innovation. Chief
Marketing Officer Lesya Lysyj explained that
innovation is not simply about products; it
really involves creating impactful marketing
plans, pursuing enhanced communications
imported beers, when compared to
crafts, ultimately account for even
higher margins and a larger share of
profits for merchants.
Heineken USA President
& CEO, Dolf van den
Brink, emphasized the
need to communicate
the “import opportunity
story more successfully
in 2013.”
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