Hahn brewery was established by Dr Charles “Chuck” Hahn in 1988 at an old factory site in the suburb of Camperdown, Sydney. This was one of the first posters produced as a part of a series.
It was originally a brewer of premium beers, including Hahn Premium and Hahn Premium Light. The 1991 recession resulted in reduced demand, and forced a rethink of this policy. A more mainstream beer called Sydney Bitter was produced, with reasonable success. It has launched two new beers since then: Hahn Super Dry in 2006 and Hahn Super Dry 3.5 in 2009.
In 1993 the brewery was purchased by Australia’s second largest brewer Lion. Chuck was appointed as the Chief Brewer of Lion Co which, at the time, operated eight breweries in Australia and New Zealand and two in China. Production of Hahn beers was moved to the Tooheys brewery in Auburn. Hahn Ice was one of the new brands that came out of Auburn. The Camperdown brewery itself was renamed to the Malt Shovel Brewery in honour of the 1st fleet convict turned Australia’s first brewer, James squire. To this day, Chuck Hahn still plays a key role in brewing the craft beers at the Malt Shovel Brewery.
Timing is critical in new-product battles. When Lion Nathan waited five months before it introduced a rival to Carlton & United Breweries’ Carlton Cold, industry watchers suspected that Lion had fallen behind CUB in terms of innovation. Their suspicions were confirmed earlier this year, when it took Lion three months to launch Hahn Longbrew in response to CUB’s Diamond Draft.
Diamond Draft and Hahn Longbrew are part of a battle in which CUB and Lion have launched a collection of new beers and line extensions of existing beers. CUB introduced Foster’s LightIce, 303 Icegold and Diamond Draft beers in November 1995, plus an alcoholic soda called Sub Zero. Lion unveiled Hahn Gold, Hahn Longbrew and Tooheys Blue Bock February the following year.
Both brewers are chasing market share in a static market: beer sales had increased just 0.3% since August 1995. At the same time, analysts say CUB wants to reduce its reliance on Victoria Bitter, which represents an estimated 45% of its annual sales at that time. Lion wanted to recapture the reputation for product innovation it enjoyed during the early 1990s with products such as Tooheys Red and Tooheys Blue, but lost in with failures such as Tooheys Gold and Tooheys Classic.
Lion’s national market share had fallen from 46% in August 1993 to 43.4% in 1995. CUB’s market share has climbed from 48% in 1993 to 55%. Chief operating officer Nuno D’Aquino at that time was chasing a market share of 60%. When he revealed the target in 1994, beer industry analysts said it would be impossible to achieve. CUB had gained two market share points over the following six months and analysts were no longer laughing.
New packaging and advertising campaigns are part of the brewers’ efforts to gain market share, but new products are the key ingredient. The managing director of Lion Nathan Australia at that time Leon L’Huillier, said: “Product innovation is an important part of our plan to achieve growth in a stable market. But innovation has to be sensible and logical. With the Hahn brand, we’ve introduced Hahn Ice, then Hahn Longbrew, then Hahn Gold. There is a clear logic to it.”
The new-product battle is not always logical and studied. In March 1996, Lion released Hahn Gold mid-strength beer in Queensland (it appeared in other states). CUB responded with a mid-strength beer called 303 Icegold. CUB launched Diamond Draft, a full-strength beer it spent three years developing. Diamond is claimed to be less filling than other beers. Three months later Lion introduced Hahn Longbrew, which it is positioning as a full-strength, less filling beer.