A-B Going Big With Stella Cidre

FILED MAY 7, 2013

Dear Client:

A-B will launch Stella Artois Cidre in the U.S. for the first time next week. A-B specs bill Stella Artois Cidre as "a crisp, distinctive European-style cider made with apples hand-picked from wine growing regions," at 4.5% alcohol. Watch out Angry Orchard.

A-B jumped in a year ago with Michelob Ultra Light Cider, but "that's a different consumer set." According to brand director, Rick Oleshak, Stella Artois Cidre will be positioned differently than most any cider on the market, as a drier product for wine drinkers. In fact, nearly three quarters of its volume is poised to come from wine, especially white wine, and even liquor and spirits. Two initial packaging configurations include 4-packs of 12 oz. bottles and a single-serve 24 oz. bottle.

"We tend to do things differently," said Rick, pointing to Stella Artois' singularity stemming from its well-recognized chalice. "We're not afraid to make things a little more high-end, or bringing in some ritual. We're doing that with Cidre." The brand is poised to take some share in a segment that Rick estimates is growing at a clip of 110% in the off-premise, 70% in the on-premise.

However: "We don't want this served in the Stella Artois Chalice. That's appropriate for our beer," says Rick. "This is a wine-style alternative. That's why we want this product placed in a white wine glass with the 24 oz. bottle next to it," in the on-premise, instead of the typical iced-cider-in-a-pint-glass setup. Draft won't come online until later this year, at the earliest. In the off-premise, Rick stipulates, "we want it to be placed next to other leaders in the category."

Summer promos will follow the May launch in 26 states. July - September will focus on retailer-building and print, outdoor and digital media. Messaging will focus on the brand's drier, wine-like orientation. "It's Cidre, Not Cider," goes the tag. "The second message we'll see in our creative is the idea of handpicked apples," said Rick, which "pushes along idea of craftsmanship."

"As we get into next year, we're targeting 77% of the U.S. population, 80% of wine drinking population in the U.S.," Rick said. It will go national in Q1 next year, but originally focus on key markets like New York, L.A., D.C., San Francisco, Chicago, Florida and Texas. "For the most part it's the border all the way around the U.S."

Stella Artois Cidre will go for around $7.49 for a 4-pack in the off-premise, "which puts us at the leading edge of the ciders," said Rick. "It's at about a 15% premium to Stella Artois beer, which indexes around the 145% pricing level in that category." The 24 oz. bottle has an SRP of around $5.99.

How big could it get? Rick couldn't give numbers but they hope to grow initial volumes by more than 4 times next year. Stella Artois Cidre will be produced in Baldwinsville, New York, using apples picked from wine-growing regions in North and South America.

BEER BRIEFS:

WHEN A PINT ISN'T A PINT. This has been a big bone of contention in Europe for years, particularly the UK. But now the New York Post, in a burst of brilliant investigative reporting, reveals that many New York taverns aren't serving a full 16oz pint when patrons order a "pint." Shocking, I know. Nine out of the 15 bars surveyed by the Post poured beer in 12 or 14oz glasses.

Until tomorrow, Harry

"People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like."
-Abraham Lincoln

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