The Kitchener, Ont.-based brewer has launched the Great Summer Seagram Sale, selling four-bottle packs of its Seagram Signature Blend coolers for $8.50 (down from the regular price of $9.95).
“We believe on all of our products that consumers should get a fair price,” said Brick Brewing president and CEO George Croft. “We can still make our margins, but we believe we are giving Ontario consumers a bit of a break–and quite frankly I think they need that today.”
Croft downplayed suggestions the sale could ignite a price war with Brick’s bigger rivals in the cooler space: Diageo and the Mark Anthony Group. “What our competitors decide to do is their call,” he said. “We’re working hard to get people back on our brand, retain our existing consumers and create some trial on what we think is a very significant and different lineup from what consumers have seen.”
Brick is supporting the summer sale with an extensive out-of-home campaign with Pattison Outdoor in 18 Ontario markets. The campaign breaks July 2 and will run through Aug. 6. Creative from The Unitas Reputation Agency consists of product shots and the price point, accompanied by copy reading “What summer drinks when it’s hot.”
Brick also promoted Seagram Blends throughout May and June with approximately 100,000 ads in cases of its Laker beer brand. “We recognize that consumers have a host of different occasions, and beer drinkers can move out of the category,” said Croft. “If they are moving out of the category, we’d love them to stay within our portfolio.”
The company is also running a transit shelter campaign with Pattison promoting its new Seagram Iced Lemon Tea product, which features a product shot accompanied by the message “Old fashioned in a wicked new way.” The brand is sold in packages of six 355-ml cans for $10.95.
“It’s really about brand awareness and creating appropriate brand equity,” said Croft of the transit campaign for the brand, which was introduced in the second quarter of fiscal 2013 and is now the second-largest brand within the Seagram portfolio.
Brick paid $7.3 million to Corby Distilleries Limited last year to purchase the Canadian rights to the Seagram Blends business, with the expectation that it could turn around a brand that had been in decline.
While Seagram is a small part of Brick’s overall business–comprising about 10,000 hectolitres (100,000 cases) of its annual production of approximately 300,000 hectolitres–Croft said it is in a growing category with good profit margins.
“We certainly believe we’ve got the competencies in terms of making product to compete very effectively with the bigger players within the category,” said Croft.
One of Brick’s first priorities for Seagram, said Croft, was taking a brand that had traditionally skewed heavily toward females and broadening its appeal by changing everything from its packaging to how it was made and marketed.
“We knew that if you want to have a meaningful category, you really have to be able to attract males without alienating females,” he said. “We really worked hard on the packaging that was a nice blend of being able to attract consumers and not alienating any of our female franchise.”
Brick also reformulated a product that had been heavily reliant upon artificial flavourings to incorporate all-natural ingredients. It is two to four times more expensive to produce beverages with all-natural ingredients, said Croft, but the change contributed to a 57.7% increase in first quarter sales volume compared to the corresponding year-earlier period.
“It was a very significant move, but well worth the investment,” he said. “That is a point that registers with consumers, and you certainly can taste the difference.”