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Asahi Dry Beer

Japan’s Asahi to buy Peroni and Grolsch brands

Asahi, known for its Super Dry beer, is Japan’s biggest brewer with a 38% market share. But the company has sought growth outside Japan where beer sales have fallen over the past two decades, as the population shrinks and wine becomes increasingly popular.

As part of the package, Asahi will also be acquiring London-based craft brewer Meantime Brewing Company, which SABMiller bought in May last year, giving the brewer access to the burgeoning craft beer market that is trickling through the UK and has already exploded in London.

Under the terms of the ‘BigBrew’ acquisition, agreed in October, AB InBev is paying £44 a share for SABMiller in a deal worth about £70bn.

“Although it seems that Asahi has overpaid for the brands, the price indicates the scarcity of the brands and Asahi’s willingness to expand outside of its home Japanese market. These kinds of divestments from AB-Inbev will most likely mark the future of the company,” comments Jeremy Cunnington, a senior analyst for alcoholic drinks at Euromonitor International.

You can hear Cunnington’s views in this video….

Marketing challenge

While the acquisitions will strengthen Asahi’s product portfolio, the brewer must now face the marketing challenge of maintaining their provenance.

Both Peroni and Grolsch have global clout and have traditionally played on their Italian and Dutch roots respectively, with brand histories steeped around those ties.

“The traditional, proudly European and nostalgic positioning of these two beers is what makes them so appealing and worth their price premiums,” says Emma Rose Hurst, senior strategist at Brand Union. “To maintain their appeal, as well as their profitability, Asahi must nurture these – neglecting these brands’ heritage would be fatal. It would reverse desire to conspicuously consume them.”

Says Peter Wilson, planning director at Iris, “Broadly speaking premium international brands are doing well and niche craft beers are doing well. With that in mind of course the acquisition makes sense; Asahi is effectively acquiring two other premium international brands, making its portfolio bigger, and most likely getting additional distribution benefits across the West as a result.

“I can’t imagine this will make much of a difference to the marketing strategies of either brand, or the way these brands are presented to the beer drinking public.  Both have strong provenance creds…They are brands from the part of the beer category that’s currently performing well, so I can’t imagine Asahi would be looking to change that too radically.”

Sources: BBC News, The Guardian,