By Andrew Starke
“Our brand equity is being strengthened and our overall market profile has improved,” he said. “Our innovation pipeline is delivering very impressive results and new campaigns are supporting our heritage brands.”
On Foster’s operations in Australia, Asia and the Pacific, Johnston said the beer sector performance in the home market of Australia was stronger than the broader regional result, with beer volumes growing 2.3 percent and net sales revenue growing 5.5 percent, excluding the impact from the loss of Boags distribution in last financial year.
“Foster’s beer portfolio remains Australia’s best – with seven of the top 10 brands, three of the five fastest growing and three of the five largest innovations in the past year,” he said. “While our principal attention in Australia has been on getting our route-to-market right, we’re not overlooking brand investment, focused advertising and promotional spend and product innovation.”
According to Johnston, brand equity measures on big brands such as VB, Carlton, Crown and Pure Blonde are ahead of last year with Pure Blonde continuing to outperform in stature and appeal.
“Carlton brand performance has been outstanding, with Carlton Draught delivering double digit revenue growth and Carlton Dry growing at 69 percent,” he said. “The entire Carlton stable of beers, which also includes Natural Blonde, Fusion lime and the newly launched lemon, has grown to be Australia’s second largest selling brand, only marginally behind VB.
“Pure Blonde growth remains very strong and the launch of the mid-strength Pure Blonde Naked is another great step for the brand.”
Launched in October 2008 in Queensland, Pure Blonde Naked is now being rolled out into other mid-strength markets.
“As Australia’s largest beer, VB remains central to Alex Stevens’ vision for CUB and new initiatives including the raise-a-glass appeal, the VB Regulars campaign and the upcoming launch of VB Raw represent a major reinvestment in the brand,” continued Johnston.
“The VB brand remains in good health, share losses have stabilised and the brand as a whole returned to value growth in the June quarter – the first quarterly improvement for many years.”
A busy summer campaign is planned and Foster’s expects these encouraging signs to translate into growth.
“We’re also paying close attention to growing our niche and premium portfolio,” he said. “The launch of Cascade Green, Fat Yak and a line of Matilda Bay innovations plays an important role in the portfolio as a whole, and Crown and our select range of imported premium beers are equally important. Each gets priority attention in the new structure.”