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The Corona Coup: How marketing sells so much bad beer

Corona is now the fifth bestselling beer in the US, selling more than double the amount of Heineken, the next most popular import. It’s growing while the rest of the beer business is drying up or being siphoned off by new small-batch brewers. Last year, Corona sales rose 4 percent.

After 3,200 reviews at RateBeer.com, Corona has a grade of 1.69 out of 10. The Beer Advocate gives Corona an “awful” rating of 55 out of 100 and the following description: “faded aromas of sulphur, faint skunk, mild cooked veggies”, and even features as one of its worst Mexican beers.

Granted, American drinkers guzzle a lot of beer that doesn’t draw rave reviews. For example, according to Chicago-based research firm IRI, one in five beers downed in the US is a Bud Light, hardly a go-to for beer snobs. Bud Light and Coors Light are popular in large part because they’re cheap. Corona, at $30 a case on average, is almost twice the cost of Natural Light, the No 6 selling beer in the country.

So how has Constellation kept the Corona party going? In a word, marketing. Crown always pushed Corona pretty hard, but Constellation has been even more aggressive with its advertising since it took over entirely in June. Specifically, it set out to boost its return in colder months….

…. Of course, an emphasis on marketing isn’t a new strategy in the beer business. Despite bloated advertising budgets, some of the biggest brands in the game have seen sales slip. Constellation’s Corona strategy is different, however, because of its consistency. The ads don’t talk about taste or hops or extra clean water. The image is not seasonal or dark or light. With the exception of the turkey promotion, the formula is simple: sand, sun, and lime wedges.

Corona isn’t selling beer. It’s selling the idea of having a beer on a beachside vacation. And the millions of beer drinkers who’ve taken a spring break trip to Cancun or hit a California taco stand don’t really care what the brew tastes like….

….Much of Constellation’s growth strategy now rests on pushing Corona Light, particularly in kegs to US bars. And the company is thinking about cooking up a new kind of Corona with more alcohol—a Corona Extra Extra if you will. Last week it announced more ambitious expansion plans, including as much as $1.1 billion in spending to double the capacity of its Mexican brewery….

Bloomberg: Read the full article

Related reading

The global march of the ‘Mexipops’

Call them “Mexipops”: Mexican-style light lagers, served in clear glass bottles with a slice of lime.… “If beer is served in clear bottles, the sunlight instantly destroys any aroma hop. It’s called ‘light-strike’. It produces a compound that smells like a damp dog, or wet cardboard. Only about a third to a half of the population can actually discern it, but sticking a piece of aromatic, zesty lime in the top covers it up. It’s a marketing ploy to disguise the fact that the beer is in an inappropriate container.”

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