hunter © grolsch2

Grolsch / Food & Beverage Making the Grolsch global brand local, then global again.

A beer brand strategy to challenge cookie-cutters and an industry status quo.

Project type

Brand Reboot

SABMiller Grolsch

Brand strategy, Brand campaign, Activation, Experiential, Ambassador program. 

Wanting to build market share in the lucrative Australian premium beer market, Dutch label Grolsch had an identity crisis. With a local view of the brand being ‘the beer my dad used to drink’, the perception was being compounded by changing drinking habits, constant discounting, generic distribution and global brand collateral that simply didn’t resonate with a younger generation. Drinkers and bar owners alike were turning their nose up to the once iconic beer. Grolsch was simply not ‘cool’.

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Having discussed the challenges at great lengths with Pacific Beverages’s Chief Marketing Officer, Paul Gloster and Marketing Manager, Jenny Carey, it was clear something needed to be done. Turning a long brief short, we were on a mission to ‘lose the cheesy global cookie-cutter branding, change perceptions and help make the brand desirable again’.

Strategically, Grolsch needed to pivot. Their ‘green bottle’ rivals had budgets that would smash them out of the park if we took them on directly. Wanting to avoid that situation, we looked at what the opinion-forming influencers were enjoying, zeroing on Australian cult label, Coopers.

Looking to get instant cut-through in a credible way, Groslch had one big advantage, the Swing-top bottle. Visually, the Swing-top looked unlike anything else. It stood out from the crowd and there seemed to be bonus kudos points attached to holding one.

Making everything about the bottle, we put our seeding strategy into action with Swing-tops being seen in the right places and hands. The one prerequisite was that the only branding present would be the actual bottles themselves. Nothing else. Nada. The simple reason being we didn’t want Grolsch to look like they were buying friends. Accelerating the program, we branched out into even more desirable areas (precincts) and venues that had been previously closed to Grolsch. Cue a series of music, art and fashion activations ranging from The Grolsch Grid and The Foals DJ sets through to sneaker launches and more. 

With eyeballs on the brand, perceptions shifted and distribution went through the roof. Brand wise, the strategy and fresh brand identity went global. The impact? The eventual sale of Grolsch to Asahi and a global adoption of the swing-top silhouette.

“I’ve worked in the beer industry for a very long time now, and I’ve never seen anything like the work you’re proposing… which is a good thing. We’ll back you 100 percent on this.”
— Paul Gloster, Chief Marketing Officer, Groslch (ANZ) 

Brand Scale-Up Lessons / Key Takeaways:

  • As per the famous Carl Fox quote from Wall Street “never measure a man's success by the size of his wallet” and so too can be said for brands. With the global beer market valued at US$ 623.2 Billion in 2020… the trick is not to get caught up in the numbers, but instead see the value in finding and building your own community. They will pay you tenfold.
  • Differentiation doesn’t only have to be in the mind of the consumer. It can be tangible too; Coca-Cola has its formula, Ferrari has the black horse, and Grolsch has a swing-top bottle. What’s true to your brand that’s visible and easily recognised?
  • Never fear big brands. Their bigness can not only make them lazy, it can also make them easy targets for challenger brands. Look at what BrewDog has done to disrupt the mainstream. It goes to such crazy lengths with its marketing, that makes it extremely difficult for the bigger players to match.

At Hunter, we can help you with:
Brand strategy, creative strategy, creative direction, art direction, copywriting, brand naming, logo design, brand identity, graphic design, packaging design, project management, production management 
and execution.

*SABMiller’s name has disappeared after its $104 billion takeover by Anheuser-Busch InBev, eliminating a corporate moniker whose roots date back to the late nineteenth century. As part of the mega-merger, Grolsch (and sister brand Peroni) was on-sold to Japanese brewer Asahi for $2.9 billion.

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