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Heineken Light vs. every U.S. brewpub

Some numbers take longer to sink in than others, or maybe it is because this past week was awfully busy, but back on Aug. 29 Brew Blog reported Heineken Premium Light will miss its ambitious volume targets.

From the Financial Times:

“One blemish on the performance was Heineken premium light, a low calorie and low carbohydrate beer, that will not turn a profit in 2007 in the US, where it was launched last year.

“While volumes rose 30 per cent in the first half, Heineken admitted it had been ‘a little too bullish’ in setting a goal of selling 1m hectolitres, blaming the weather and higher prices.”

One million hectoliters. That’s more than 850,000 barrels, the measure usually used in the U.S. beer business. Or put another way, going on 11.7 million cases.

How much is that? Sierra Nevada sold 640,000 barrels in 2006.

Magic Hat, Bell’s, Shipyard, Abita, New Glarus, Stone, Kona, Great Lakes, Sweetwater and Victory – 10 breweries that each grew at a rate of 20% or more in 2006 – combined for 536,000 barrels.

All the brewpubs in the United States combined to sell 697,000 barrels in 2006. Total.

How could Heineken Premium Light, invented little more than a year ago, hope to rocket to 850,000 barrels?

By spending $55 million on marketing in 2006 (that’s just for HPL, not Heineken itself) and $70 million more in 2007.

Just something to think about.

6 Responses to Heineken Light vs. every U.S. brewpub

  1. SteveH September 7, 2007 at 5:14 am #

    So what was their final total? I’d like to hear Sierra Nevada beat them by thousands of barrels, but I’m afraid the HPL sales weren’t as dismal as they’d like us to believe.

    The groceries in N. Illinois are currently promoting Heineken and HPL 3 gallon keggies — on fancy 10 keg racks in the liquor isle, and that’s just the groceries.

  2. Stan Hieronymus September 7, 2007 at 6:28 am #

    We’ll have to wait for the final totals, but my guess is that it will be more than 640,000 – but IRI shows Sierra Nevada sales rolling in the first half so maybe there is a horse race in there.

  3. Lew Bryson September 7, 2007 at 6:41 am #

    From a standing start. Wow. Money talks, and it says “Buy me, drone.”

    Um, that said…I did buy one of them Heineken keggy things in Virginia two weeks ago — we ran out of beer after an unexpectedly hot day and more guests than we expected — and the keg thing was really cool, and the draft Heineken wasn’t bad, sitting on the front porch, drinking it cold and fresh.

  4. Stan Hieronymus September 7, 2007 at 6:48 am #

    Not to heap too much praise on this beer, but you’ll recall one of their marketing worries has been overcoming the “Heineken Hurdle” — a perception among light beer drinkers who previously have tasted Heineken that HPL would be too robust for them.

    What does that tell us about the beer? That there’s flavor in there. And the integrity in those cute skinny cans (or the kegs) is solid.

    Am I going to keep it in my fridge for myself? No.
    Will I have it there for my Coors Light friends (rather than Coors Light)? Yes.
    Would I drink it at a party on a hot day? Yes.
    Would I rather be at the local brewpub? Yes.

  5. SteveH September 7, 2007 at 8:49 am #

    “….that HPL would be too robust for them.”

    Um. Yah.

    Back to the horserace; HPL, or SN Summerfest? Since a local has a close-out deal of $5 a six for the SN, there’s no question. And there’s no question that fear of robust would only be heightened by the Summerfest — well, for reg’lar Heinie drinkers anyway.

  6. SteveH September 7, 2007 at 3:02 pm #

    As an adendum — local joint (closest to my home) with $2.75 pints of the same said SN Summerfest — lucky turn of the steering wheel after a trying day!

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