Woolworths – Platinum Blonde ‘Very, very blonde.’ Upside-down Poster


By 7 Aug 2008.

“BEER barons are to come under the same pressure as grocery brands as Woolworths launches its own range of beers to grab a share of the $7 billion market.

The first beer made exclusively for the supermarket chain goes on sale this week, a competitor to the successful Pure Blonde, which dominates the fast-growing low-carb beer segment.

Woolworths’ Platinum Blonde aims to capture as much as 10 per cent of the $420 million low-carb beer market by the end of this summer, signalling its intention to replicate the success of private labels in some grocery areas. Private label or house brands account for 20 per cent of grocery sales.

But unlike imported brands such as Sol and Hollandia, Platinum is the first beer to be brewed just for Woolworths in Australia.

Woolworths and Coles increased their combined share in the liquor market from 32 per cent to 52 per cent in the past four years, said the analysts Citigroup.

Coles contracts Boag’s to make two brands, Tasman Bitter and Hammer ‘n’ Tongs, but has yet to push the brands hard.

Platinum is the first product out of Six Star Breweries – the brand name Woolworths has given to the operation. The beers are brewed by Victoria’s Independent Distillers, which produces Kingfisher beer under licence in Australia.

“We don’t enter these sorts of projects unless we can capture a reasonable share of market, and we are looking at mid to high single digits,” said Shane Tremble, the merchandising manager of private label and control brands at Woolworths. Woolworths will market the brand in its 1000-odd liquor outlets and 300 hotels and pubs.

“Despite what you might think we can’t get down and dirty with the likes of Pure Blonde . We can’t play in that space, but there are lots of things we can do,” Mr Tremble said. “We have got control over point-of-sale, we have control over floor, shelf and fridge space, and those are powerful things and in many ways equally as powerful as the other tools available to brand marketers.”

In the last financial year, the low-carb beer segment grew by nearly 90 per cent in value and volume to take almost 6 per cent of the total beer market, according to Nielsen ScanTrack data. The IBISWorld analyst Audrey Riddell doubted Woolworths would be able to reach half its stated share target. “If you look around the world the penetration of private label beer is pretty low. But given the margins are so high, it’s understandable why they [retailers] want to go there.”

Foster’s and Lion were playing down the impact of their biggest trade customer moving into their territory, safe in the belief Platinum is unlikely to carry the same social cachet as their brands. A spokesman for Lion, which makes Hahn Super Dry, James Tait, said “home brands” have their place in the market and it is “happy to compete against them”.

Foster’s general manager beer, Peter Sinclair, said it had been “interesting” to see the low-carb segment grow off the back of Pure Blonde’s success.

“Beer is highly competitive and the brands that will succeed will be those that capitalise on trends but are also backed by a serious investment in product development and marketing.”


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