Kirin sales decline in Japan

16th July, 2014 by Rupert Millar

Sales of one of Japan’s leading beer brands, Kirin, have tumbled further this year and it is falling further behind its competitors.

kirin.beerAccording to The Japan Times, Kirin missed out in particular on the rise of Japan’s premium beer category this year.

Rivals Suntory and Sapporo have seen success with their premium brands but Kirin has stuck largely with its traditional labels, while its one limited edition beer, Samurai Blue, failed to take off in the market after Japan’s football team crashed out of the World Cup – a team Kirin was sponsoring.

Kirin’s volume sales reportedly sank 6.6% between January and June of this year compared to the same period last year – the largest fall in the first half of the year it has suffered in close to four – while its market share fell from 35% in 2013 to 33.1%.

Rival Asahi meanwhile gained 1% of the market, taking it to a 38% share while Suntory rose to 15.5% of the market – a 0.4% rise.

Last year marked a relative high point for the brand as sales hit five million cases but it has been in decline for some time now, once controlling over half of Japan’s ¥4 trillion beer market before Asahi overtook it in 2001.

It has tried to reverse its misfortune in what is generally a shrinking beer market by introducing a range of “beer-like” drinks last year as well as concentrating more on exports but it is still handicapped by a reliance on Japan.

Asahi has also attacked Kirin in the on-trade having invested ¥2.5bn in the sector, while Suntory won a deal at grilled chicken chain Torikizoku, even though Kirin is one of the leading shareholders.

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