The simultaneous market launch of two different non-alcoholic Corona versions by AB InBev is causing uncertainty in the markets.
In January, AB InBev announced to launch Corona Sunbrew 0.0%, the first-of-its-kind, non-alcoholic beer that contains 30 per cent of the daily value of vitamin D per bottle. “The global brand will first launch Corona Sunbrew 0.0% in Canada,” according to a press release by AB InBev. “Later this year, Corona will extend the non-alcoholic product offering in the UK followed by key markets across the rest of Europe, South America, and Asia,” the company said. (inside.beer, 5.1.2022)
According to Felipe Ambra, Corona’s global vice president, AB InBev, was not interested in launching “just another non-alcoholic beer” but rather a product “with a point of differentiation.[…] We were looking to develop something that’s true to the brand positioning of Corona, which is all about helping people reconnect physically or mentally with nature, the sun and the outdoors,” Mr. Ambra told AdWeek.
Therefore the simultaneous launch of another non-alcoholic version of Corona without vitamin D added in the UK, Germany, Sweden and 7 more European markets comes to a surprise to many market observers.
In the UK, Corona Cero is already exclusively available at Tesco stores. Tesco Category Buyer Manager for beer and cider Marianne Aitken is enthusiastic about the product. “Interestingly, this year it was low and no alcohol beer and cider which saw the highest demand – a reversal of Dry January 2021 when wine and spirit alternatives were the most popular. […] Those high sales were encouraged by […] the exclusive listing of Corona Cero at our stores,” she was cited by Beverage Daily.
In Germany, Corona Cero will be available from mid-February – as a six-pack with the characteristic 0.355 liter bottles. In contrast to Corona Sunbrew 0.0% with its added Vitamin D, Corona Cero is “brewed with 100 percent natural ingredients, for 100 percent refreshing taste. With an alcohol content of zero point zero percent and only 60 calories per bottle unit,” according to a press release by Anheuser-Busch InBev Germany Holding.
Corona Cero is “a 100 percent natural lifestyle drink with great potential that meets the increasing demand for alcohol-free premium products - especially among the younger, trend- and health-conscious target group," says Michel Pepa, AB InBev’s Country Director for Germany.
However, despite the enthusiasm, Corona Cero is not a new product. The product was launched in Mexico five years ago (2016) by AB InBev’s subsidiary, Grupo Modelo. With its ingredients water, hops, malt and yeast the product was “developed with the same essence, naturalness and processes that characterize the beer brand,” the company said at that time. The product launch was part of AB InBev’s “main objective […] to reduce by 2025 the harmful consumption of alcohol by 10% in pilot cities and in countries such as: China, Belgium, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and the United States.”
It is now open, if AB InBev, according to their own statement from January, is going to launch Corona Sunbrew 0.0%, later in those markets in Europe where it now starts with Corona Cero. However, it seems more likely that the company did not mention Corona Cero in its statement in January because it did not want to risk the success of the launch of Corona SunBrew 0.0%.