Diageo Beer Co. "Back in Black"

FILED APRIL 13, 2018

Dear Client:

We haven't heard much from Diageo Beer Company in a while, but their brands have been quietly creeping up in the trends after a period of challenges. New DBC chief Nuno Teles and SVP, CMO Dan Buttling spoke with BBD about to catch us up on what's going on there.

Here are some highlights:

-Diageo Beer Company is the number 3 ranked supplier in terms of value and volume growth, per the latest 52 weeks scans from Nielsen all outlet ending March 24.

-The company has bested "better beer" (craft, imports) in the latest 52 weeks too in both dollar sales and volume: up 6% vs. 5.4% value and up 5.1% vs. 4.7% volume

-Core Guinness dollar Sales Trends beating Better Beer over four time periods:

52 weeks +5.8% vs. +5.4%
24 weeks +5.7% vs. +4.9%
12 weeks +6.8% vs. +5.4%
4 weeks +7.5% vs. +4.9%

BACK IN BLACK. "We are getting into the right direction," says Nuno. "We're back in black….. Guinness in cans and bottles is growing 8%. It's a combination of distribution and rate of sale. Smirnoff Ice is growing as well." The brand's dollar sales trends bested "Better Beer" over latest 52 weeks … up 6.7% vs. 5.4%.

SMIRNOFF ICE STILL KICKING. Dan adds: "The core of Smirnoff Ice has really turned around…. And we've entered the C-store 8% ABV category" with Smirnoff Ice cans 24-oz. "Extremely positive both in pull and anecdotally. The cans are absolutely striking."

SPIKED SELTZER. DBC is also beefing up its new Smirnoff Spiked Sparkling Seltzer line, with the launch of Berry Lemonade in 12-packs, and Raspberry Rose in 6 and 12 packs. "All of which have tested extremely well."

What about TV marketing for Guinness? "Certainly we do a a lot of digital and social, but honestly on TV we focus on live sports," says Dan.

GUINNESS DRAFT. Guinness draft has was in decline four years ago to flat today. "It's amazing to see the improvement over the last few years," says Nuno. Dan adds, "The distribution and rate of sale has improved and we have put a lot of effort into 0n-premise… We have ten brewery ambassadors out in the market…. Beer dinners and a lot of programming out in the market…. And it was the number one beer in NYC and Chicago on St. Patrick's day."

A SMALL BET? EX-SUPPLIER EXEC BETS ME A GRAND AND I LOST

It felt like deja vu yesterday when I read in Insights Express that anonymous writer, Nestor, "named after the ancient Greek advisor", said he won a "small bet" with a friend. That friend was me, Harry, and at a grand, it wasn't such a small bet (at least to me). But yes, I lost, and paid.

The bet was whether Molson Coors and Heineken NV would merge by the end of last year. My friend, whom I will not reveal as he wrote under a pseudonym, wrote, "I got the check a few weeks ago, bringing Heineken/TAP … back to front of mind. And it occurred to me that my friend wasn�� t wrong; he was just a bit ahead of the curve."

HUSA - MILLERCOORS. To be clear, while I foolishly made the bet with my friend that Heineken NV would buy Molson Coors, I actually believe the combination that makes more sense is Heineken USA and MillerCoors in the U.S., in a J-V. And I still believe that today. And I believe it will happen in the next 18 months. Double or nothing, Nestor?

GET GOING. As Nestor writes: "If I were advising Heineken or Molson Coors, I would exhort them to get going. Major acquisitions take time (primarily for antitrust clearance reasons). And time may be of the essence. Volume declines in consumer goods categories like beer can take on avalanche-like velocity. Two words. Schlitz. Stroh. Molson Coors can avoid this kind of fate." Indeed. We finally agree.


Until tomorrow,

Harry, Jenn, and Jordan


"It is better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret." - Jackie Joyner-Kersee


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