By Brennan Stark, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Last month AmBev, the Brazilian subsidiary of the InBev conglomerate, announced that Budweiser would be widely introduced in Brazilian supermarkets by the end of August. The Belgian brewer giant InBev acquired the ‘King of Beers,’ Anheuser-Busch’s Budweiser, in an unprecedented $52 billion takeover in 2008 with plans to take the famous brand global.
According to Stella Brant, director of marketing for the premium area of AmBev, the action is part of the international positioning of the brand focusing around young consumers, Class A/B who like music and aspire to the “cool” target audience profile.
“Budweiser is an international icon and has a youth appeal. Brazil and the United States, simultaneously, will be the first to receive the new identity with Budweiser. Budweiser will be the face of the global InBev,” said Brant.
Budweiser currently controls over sixteen percent of the United States’ beer market, making it the best selling brand in the U.S. and second in the world, falling behind only Snow Beer, a brand sold exclusively in China.
Whether its popularity in the U.S. can be mirrored in Brazil remains to be seen, however. Sam Flowers, owner of American-themed Gringo Café in Ipanema, questions if it will have much success with American expatriates or tourists. “It’s not a premium beer in the U.S. but the price here matches Heineken and other high end options,” he stated.
Michael Taylor, co-owner of Shenanigan’s in Ipanema, has a different outlook, expecting it to do well based on frequent request at his establishment. He explains: “It’s only available to supermarkets first and will be rolled out later to bars and restaurants. We will be buying it ourselves from the stores until it enters into our suppliers system for bars.”
InBev’s hope undoubtedly lies in whether its new investment can charm Brazilians. Flowers speculates, “It might become popular with [our] Brazilian customers,” as some had inquired about it before, and had even gone to look for it at Wal-Mart and Carrefour.
Budweiser’s secret to its sales has always been its massive marketing efforts. In its attempts to become established in the Brazilian beer market, InBev has already begun an an all-out Budweiser campaign in the same vein as the beer’s own legendary U.S. advertising.
UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva, who also pushes Nike and Burger King in his native Brazil, has signed on to help promote the brand. “The Spider” stars in a documentary titled “Budweiser Champion Experience,” a short film shown exclusively on Budweiser’s Brazilian Facebook page.
InBev is also reportedly sponsoring a number of concerts under the Budweiser banner in the coming months, at Rock in Rio 2011 and elsewhere, with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Britney Spears, Rihanna and Eric Clapton among those being supported.
Whether the “King of Beers” can win over its Brazilian audience ultimately depends just as much on distributorship as it does on Brazilians actually liking the taste, according to David Eger, owner of Balcony bar and restaurant in Copacabana.
“This is a different world and Bud does not have their own distributorships in every city like in the States” where Budweiser reigns supreme, claims Eger. “But Bud has deep pockets, so they might prevail…We wish them good luck.”