YouGov data has revealed that positive buzz around Corona beer has increased in Australia during the coronavirus crisis and is predicted to be a boon for beer sales.
Since the first reports of Coronavirus at the end of 2019, consideration of Corona among Australia has remained consistent, while certain measures around brand health have improved.
YouGov’s daily brand perception tracker, BrandIndex, measures a range of media, brand health and lower funnel metrics and shows that indicators such as ‘Word of Mouth’ (‘Have you talked about the brand?’) and ‘Ad Awareness’ (Have you seen and ad for the brand?’) have increased along with Positive Buzz (‘Have you heard anything positive about the brand?’).
Laura Robbie, YouGov’s General Manager in Australia told B&T: “We haven’t seen any negative impact on the Australian data for Corona as yet, but as one of the 500-plus brands we measure daily in Australia, we will be first to know if this changes. At the moment, it seems that Australian consumers do not talk about Corona as a beer in a negative way. Instead, consumers have recently become more aware of Corona as a brand.”
Professor Mark Ritson has written a column for UK’s Marketing Week titled Coronavirus Won’t Hurt Corona, It Will Actually Boost Beer Sales.
Ritson writes: “The massive salience boost for Corona that is now happening will propel the brand to top-of-mind status for millions of beer drinkers for many weeks to come. That’s important because System 1 thinking is how most of us buy most of our shit.
“And that’s how most people buy beer. Of this I am certain. When you walk to a bar the question is not ‘does this pandemic make you feel different about any of the beers on the following list?’. The question is: ‘What can I get you?’ Or, if you drink in working-class pubs that have dogs and dartboards, a vaguely intimidating nod in your direction.
“Either way, the answer that will spring to mind for thousands of drinkers in the current and coming months will be ‘Corona’. Not because of what it stands for. Not because of the negative associations it evokes. Just because that was the first beer that came to mind. The reptile brain wins again. And so – if this column is correct – will Corona.”
Americans more cautious around Corona
It’s a different story in the United States, where YouGov Brand Index reported that Corona’s Buzz score decreased among those who have an opinion of the brand, from a high score of 75 at the beginning of January to 51 as of late February.
PR agency 5W Public Relations released findings of a survey that showed 38% of beer-drinking Americans say they now won’t drink the lager, while 16% were confused about whether Corona beer is related to the coronavirus.
5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian said: “There is no question that Corona beer is suffering because of the coronavirus. Could one imagine walking into a bar and saying ‘Hey, can I have a Corona?’ or ‘Pass me a Corona.’ While the brand has claimed that consumers understand there’s no linkage between the virus and the beer company, this is a disaster for the Corona brand. After all, what brand wants to be linked to a virus which is killing people worldwide?”
Constellation addressed “unfounded concerns about the impact of the COVID-19 virus” on Corona beer sales and consumer sentiment related to the brand.
“Based on recent IRI retail trends, sales of Corona Extra remain strong, with dollar sales up 5% in the US per the latest four-week period ended February 16, nearly doubling the 52-week trend for the brand,” the company said.
“Similarly, depletion trends for Corona Extra for the first two months of this calendar year through February 26, as well as the month of February, have also outpaced their 52-week trend.
“In addition, IRI dollar sales trends for the entire Corona brand family are also outpacing their 52-week trend in the latest four-week and 12-week periods. Furthermore, all business units supporting our beer business are seeing positive beer sales trends for the brand thus far this calendar year.”
Bill Newlands, president and chief executive officer at Constellation Brands, added: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by this terrible virus and we hope efforts to more fully contain it gain traction soon.
“It’s extremely unfortunate that recent misinformation about the impact of this virus on our business has been circulating in traditional and social media without further investigation or validation. These claims simply do not reflect our business performance and consumer sentiment, which includes feedback from our distributor and retailer partners across the country. We’ve seen no impact to our people, facilities or operations and our business continues to perform very well.
“Unlike many of our competitors, sales of our beer brands are focused almost entirely on the US market. Our company does not have much exposure to international markets such as China that have been most impacted by this situation. I’m extremely proud of the efforts of our team. We’ve built good momentum as we gear up for the upcoming summer selling season.”