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AB Inbev looks to boost Stella Artois popularity in Belgium

Illustration picture shows the Stella Artois logo during the launch of the new line for the production of Stella Artois of brewery group Anheuser-Busch InBev, in Leuven, Monday 22 February 2016. (BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND)
09:23 17/03/2021

The brewer AB Inbev has announced two strategic decisions related to one of its most famous brands, Stella Artois. In the first, the brewer revealed that it intends to relocate production of Stella destined for the American market to the United States. It is currently manufactured in Jupille, near Liège.

In the second, the brewer said that it intends to boost Stella's sales in Belgium. The company now faces a challenge to get the right message across to consumers.

AB Inbev will reduce production of Stella Artois at its Jupille plant which produces the beer for the American market. AB Inbev's management wants to shorten the distance between the producer and the consumer.

Given the success of Stella in the United States, the intention is to produce some of the Stella destined for the American market at the Anheuser-Busch site in St Louis. This would mean a 30% reduction in production volume at the Jupille site.

Ab Inbev has justified this decision on "environmental" grounds. Bringing the production and customer closer together would reduce transportation costs, but also the environmental impact of this transport.

At the same time, AB-Inbev wants to make Stella even more popular with Belgian consumers, through a major campaign to promote the beer in the Belgian market.

The company will use the slogan "La vie Artois" in its attempt to conquer the hearts of beer lovers in Belgium. The decision to double down and boost sales in Belgium comes after a rise in consumption of Stella in Belgium during the last year of the coronavirus crisis.

"Both the promotional campaign presented and the decision to relocate are explained by the growth in the popularity of Stella Artois," explained Laure Stuyck, head of communications AB InBev in Belgium.

However, what InBev now faces is a delicate communications challenge with, on the one hand, the negative message of reduced production in Jupille and, on the other, the desire to relaunch the "Stella" image in Belgium.

"It's going to be complicated, because at the consumer level, there is often an amalgamation that is made in the perception of the average consumer,” said Jean-Claude Jouret, professor of marketing at the Brussels Management School, Ichec. “To think that, on the one hand, we reduce the activity of a factory in Belgium and then relaunch communication to increase the consumption of this product in Belgium, it may seem paradoxical."

"They will have to positively focus on maintaining employment in Jupille as part of the production for other European countries, and on the success of the brand in the United States which justifies production in the US," explained Jean-Claude Jouret. "It's a message that's going to have to get through because until now, it hasn’t.”

In recent years, AB Inbev has made Stella a global product. It is now more popular abroad than in its home country. In Belgium, Jupiler is consumed more than Stella. AB Inbev's challenge now will be to rejuvenate the Stella image and brand it as the "Belgian beer."

Written by Nick Amies


Frank Lee

Yes, my American friends are proud to show me they're drinking a Stella, as it's marketed over there as some kind of a premium beer. I keep telling them that it's probably the worst of all Belgian beers, similar to Budweiser over there (they both give me headaches after I drink them). AB Inbev is about selling lots and lots of carbonated water slightly flavored to make people believe it's beer. Real Belgian beer lovers know better.

Mar 20, 2021 21:43