Building a successful global beer brand

Part 4: The first step to building a successful global beer brand is to define the benefits to your organisation. Now Kos Apostolatos, David Atkinson and Joseph Poore from management consultancy firm Marakon, outline the second key consideration.

Figure 5: Increasing share of the top five brands in local markets

As we analysed hundreds of beer brands, it was striking to see that for those that had made the transition from local to global, there was no common reason for their success.

What unites the eight global beer brands is that they have a unique customer value proposition to the customer and/or have an advantaged business model.

Through our research we consistently heard that to build a global brand you need great taste, local image and a brand that is currently profitable. We believe these factors were, and remain, critical to building a local but not global beer brand.

Being very good in a number of areas is not enough to give a brand the front running in the global market. The starting point for selecting the right brand to take global is a unique customer value proposition.

Uniqueness means that there is a place in the mind of the consumers where your brand sits alone with clearly identified consumer “benefits”, ultimately driving strong buying behaviour and loyalty.

Why are taste and profitability not as important as a unique customer proposition?

Consumers are embarrassingly poor at differentiating between lagers in blind taste tests. A Carling study found consumers could not identify a significant difference in taste across five of its competitor’s lagers nor could they identify their favourite brand as having superior taste.

Once labelled, the consumers immediately ranked their preferred brand as superior across taste factors. Taste, to a large degree, is all in the eyes rather than the palate.

We also heard brewers should choose which brand to take global based on how profitable the brand currently is in key countries (with the idea being that if you are successful locally, you have a better chance of becoming successful globally).

We believe that this will lead to the wrong brand being promoted on many occasions as profitability is a not a leading but a lagging indicator of the overall success of a brand.

Global brands—uniqueness and value to their owners

Estimated revenue to brewer

(€m, 2011)

Share of group 
revenue (%, 2011)


Top 10 global beer brands

Heineken Footprint and international image



Budweiser Scale and resulting A&P spend



Corona Packaging and experience



Carlsberg Mainstream price point and image



Guinness Irish stout



Stella Artois Sophisticated European image



Beck’s Affordable premium proposition



Miller Draft “American-ness”



Amstel Heritage pilsner proposition



Foster’s Global license and positioning




Brands with potential to enter the top 10

Tiger Definitive Asian beer, youth focus



Peroni Focus on cities and niche markets



Desperados Unique RTM and taste profile



Kirin Packaging and image



Asahi Packaging and image



Brahma Packaging and image



Kingfisher Pride of India, professional focus



Snow Scale and resulting A&P spend



Blue Moon Craft beer at scale



We discovered that brands that fail to identify (and sustain over time) a material point of uniqueness on the global consumer map will fall into a negative cycle, slowly reducing volume and profitability in all markets over time. Unique brands are able to leverage their strengths to increase consumer appeal and grow rapidly.

For further information, contact Kos Apostolatos +44 (0)7825 040 036, or David Atkinson +44(0)7809 779 829,

2 Responses to “Building a successful global beer brand”

  1. thuur says:

    looking for champagnes for china heineken corona and becks beer

  2. Any information on bottled beer Final Selection in the 1950s

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