Inbev is to push its lower strength version of Stella Artois in the off-trade, with on-trade outlets taking a back seat, the group announced on Thursday.
The 4% abv Stella will hit retailer's shelves in August in a range of SKUs including four, eight, 10 and 15-packs of 44cl cans.
A four pack will have a recommended retail price of £3.49, which is a “10% premium to the rest of the 4% lager category”, according to Inbev’s UK & Ireland president Stuart MacFarlane. He added that the brand will available in bottles in the first 12 months of the launch.
The move will spearhead Inbev's plans to re-invigorate Stella Artois in the UK.
Although it will go into pubs in November, MacFarlane said Stella 4% will be “more biased to the off-trade”. It will be backed by a “significant above-the-line investment” starting in October and running until December.
Despite refusing to reveal specific figures, MacFarlane said the marketing campaign will cost “significant millions” and will include TV, press, poster and online ads.
This month, Inbev UK ended its long association with the Stella Artois-backed tennis tournament at the Queen’s Club event. MacFarlane hinted that the brand will be moving away from link-ups with sporting events, and will instead pursue sponsorship opportunities in the arts, which he described as a “more appropriate platform for a premium brand”.
Inbev has no plans to de-list any of its other brands as a result of the launch, MacFarlane added. “The brands will play different roles”, he said, with Becks Vier targeted at a “younger audience” and Stella 4% targeted at 25 to 44-year-old consumers drinking at more social, food-oriented occasions.
“The consumer awareness of abv or strength is greater than it was 20 years ago. But that’s not our starting point. The 4% lager category in the UK is worth £6 billion in retail sales value. The beer industry is in decline – if we are going to make money or add value, we have to do it by premiumisation.”
See also: Inbev shakes up UK operations