Heineken USA is inviting domestic light beer drinkers to "succumb to smooth" with the national launch of Heineken Premium Light. The new imported light beer, brewed specifically with domestic light beer drinkers in mind, offers an extraordinary smooth and light taste experience with all the premium cachet of a Heineken.
The introduction of Heineken Premium Light signifies the brand’s first major extension in a celebrated 133-year history. The creation of this new "Luxury Light" segment marks a groundbreaking moment for the U.S. light beer landscape. With Heineken Premium Light, domestic light beer drinkers now have the option of "socializing without sacrifice" with a beer that imbues the confidence of a discerning premium brand choice without sacrificing taste or image.
"We’re offering domestic light beers drinkers the option to ‘trade up’ to an easy-to-drink product that carries the image and cache of Heineken’s premium brand status," said Andy Thomas, CEO of Heineken USA. "We want consumers to question their relationship with their current domestic light beer. We’re confident they will ‘succumb to smooth’ once they’ve experienced Heineken Premium Light."
Development & Testing
Within the U.S. beer market, light beer accounts for nearly 50% of total volume, with the import specialty and light beer segments driving growth (Beverage Marketing 3Q 2005). Based on more than two years of extensive brand development and consumer research, Heineken has identified a largely unmet consumer need state for a product that offers a unique combination of high quality drinkability with premium cachet.
"This is the intersection of two macro consumer trends," said Andy Glaser, Heineken Brand Director. "It is the sweet spot where consumability meets trading-up to affordable luxuries. Heineken USA plans to develop and dominate this emerging territory we have called Luxury Light, with a bookend strategy to introduce Heineken Premium Light and support a re-positioned Amstel Light."
A line extension as significant as a variant of the company flagship needed to be thoroughly tested in the market. Heineken Premium Light was tested in Phoenix, Ariz.; Dallas, Texas; Providence, R.I.; and Tampa, Fla. during the summer and fall of 2005. Brand performance over this period was exceptional with all success criteria achieved. Heineken Premium Light quickly became the #2 imported light beer brand across these four markets and continues to gain momentum.
In addition to the stand-alone success of Heineken Premium Light in the test markets, there was also a positive impact on the sales trends of both Heineken Lager Beer and Amstel Light. "By tightly targeting specific and different consumers within different need states, we were able to generate significant incremental growth while preserving the current level of sales across the other brands," added Glaser. "In fact, we actually accelerated the growth on Heineken Lager and Amstel Light during this period, which is encouraging."
More than 20 unique liquids were developed and tested before the final recipe was chosen for the new premium product. Heineken Premium Light is brewed with the special Heineken horizontal fermentation method creating a uniquely flavorful and refreshing taste. With only 99 calories and 6.8 g of carbohydrates, it still maintains some subtle flavor notes of Heineken Lager Beer.
Heineken Premium Light is available starting March 1 nationwide in 12oz bottles to consumers in the on-premise. Beginning April 1, the product will then also be made available for purchase off-premise nationwide in six- and 12-pack bottles at the same price point of Heineken Lager.
National Marketing Campaign
The launch of Heineken Premium Light will be supported by a national $50 million full-scale marketing campaign, and is headlined by a seductively simple advertising campaign. Elegantly simple layouts of a Heineken Premium Light bottle, with compelling taglines such as "Succumb to Smooth," entice consumers to re-examine their "relationship" with their current domestic light beer. The ad campaign breaks on March 1 with a massive interactive and viral campaign to engage consumers. Print advertising breaks March 3 with a full-page ad in USA Today, supported by national print including an impact unit in Maxim Magazine. Out-of-home begins April 1 for the off-premise phase supported by television kicking off later that month. In addition, 11 major kick-off events are slated for March.
"Our groundbreaking marketing approach to create maximum launch impact for Heineken Premium Light in the category includes targeted Hispanic initiatives, full-scale public relations, advertising, viral and promotional campaigns," said Glaser. "The relationship theme works on many different levels and is designed to encourage consumers to re-evaluate their current light beer of choice and ultimately upgrade to Heineken Premium Light."
The new Heineken Premium Light packaging has been specifically designed to create strategic differentiation from Heineken Lager Beer. The slimmer and taller new bottle structure features a vertical logo treatment on the label, which all together highlights the smooth and lighter beer within and accentuates the premium look and feel. The newly designed six- and 12-packs also clearly highlight the "Light" in the name for further distinction and have introduced a dominant color of silver to further add premium and lighter beer product cues.