Tuesday, November 01, 2016
Brazil’s Sobriety Bad News for Beer Giant
If you asked just about anyone anywhere to pick a country that was known for partying, it’s likely Brazil would land in the top five of responses. From the beaches to the carnivals, Brazil knows how to get happy and stay loose.
That reputation for being a party hearty place might be under some scrutiny after a recent revelation that Brazilians just aren’t drinking as much beer as they used to. According to CNN, Belgian-based Anheuser-Busch InBev watched its sales drop nearly 10% over the summer, a fall in a season not known for lagging in people looking to down some brews.
But it’s not just the summertime good vibrations that should have increased beer sales across Brazil last summer. Remember, this was also the summer the country hosted the Olympics, so they had hundreds of thousands if not millions of extra thirsts looking to be quenched … and beer sellers still lost money.
Some are quick to blame Brazil’s plummeting economy for the drop in sales, and that may not be far from the truth. Folks aren’t much in the mood for celebration when they’re facing the longest recession in nearly a century; unemployment is way up, and wages are way down.
Now, you might think that all this bad news has people drinking more, not less. And that may be true. The reports didn’t mention how much hard liquor sales were up, or even if they were. Only that beer, mostly a celebratory drink in Brazil, isn’t the alcohol of choice these days.
Worse, even those who are still drinking beer have switched brands from Bud to labels that allow them to return bottles for a small cash refund. Seems like Brazilians would rather have change in their pockets than Budweiser in their fridge. Reacting quickly to this particular loss of revenue, Bud spokesmen have said they will be switching to more returnable bottles and cans, a move that, they hope, will allow them to pull back some of that lost market share.
But it will take more than a little bit of returned change for Brazilians to start drinking Budweiser again. The company has faced tough economies in various different countries before, and they have still been able to increase market share by appealing directly to the people, making them want to drink their brand regardless of other circumstances … and, in some cases, because of it. If Bud wants to turn it around in Brazil, they need to dust off some good old fashioned consumer PR and put it to work.
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.