Reeling Back From the Lite Punches

Here’s the scenario. Kenyans, who definitely love their beer, Mututho and his school prefect ego with a timetable on drinking time/schedules, and the ever rising cost of living. Now, a recent research by Consumer Insight reveals that there is a shortfall in expenditure for alcoholic beverages. It reveals that 54% of imbibers are drinking less, while 23% have opted for cheaper brands. 12% on the other hand have decided to drop the frothy tumbler all together.

Now let me tie up the scenario with a simple question- with the per-capita consumption of beer declining, why is East African Breweries Limited (EABL) and SAB Miller—which has made a return to the Kenyan market through subsidiary Crown Beverages – throwing light punches (pun intended)

EABL decided to broaden its Tusker category with a LITE beer, while Crown beverages are going for their jugular on market share with Castle LITE, just after introducing Miller Genuine Draft in December 2011 and reintroducing Redds in a bottle. By the way, I hear ladies are still asking for the can so that they are able to take some of the spoils home in their ‘guest-house bags’- I digress.

Tusker LITE caused quite a stir in festive December 2011 after its debut in the market with a jazzy-feel-and-look press ad, reinforced by flyers at every watering hole. Tusker Malt lovers quickly took to ita waiter, ordering for the lighter option (largely so since it retailed at the same price). From what my fellow colleagues across the bar counter tell me, the switch lasted in between sips. I tried it out myself and I must admit, as a beer enthusiast, I had a new definition for LITE beer- it’s that beer you love, watered down. The ad promised a big taste- they sure failed to measure up.

A few months later after the big taste let down, Castle LITE was introduced to Kenyan’s in February. I think the copywriter or brand manager had sipped from their competitor’s bottle because the copy is strategic and spot on. Almost pinching their noses and telling them to know LITE beer. From the copy, they know that the LITE beer drinker is discerning. But doesn’t want to compromise on taste. We’ll he needs to see the LITE in this here beer. Further, the ad contains figures that show its contents proportions. (Though we don’t have a way of proving what they say is true, but we trust KEBS to rein them in if it’s a lie).

To cap the scenario, Castle LITE does indeed seem not to have compromised on taste. Unfortunately for Tusker LITE, the beer drinker is making comparisons between the two and Castle LITE comes off better flavored- bigger on taste if I may say so. The tables at my local joint tell me so- but then again, Kenyans are known to love trying out new stuff introduced into the market before going back to their old faithful brands, so the jury is still out on whether Castle light will become a favorite and compete with the more established malts and lagers.

Now, I think all these premium LITE beers are being targeted at a market segment that wants to look classy and are easily impressionable. What the heck is a LITE beer? Low on carbs, less calories, low alcohol content yadayada…. From what I know, the different with the ordinary beers is so negligible (Castle LITE’s ad confirms it’s a mere 25% less calories which you have already burnt of reading this piece). LITE beer drinkers need to live a little because what you gain in way of less calories you lose in a major way with flavor, aroma and body. Quit that talk about having a beer gut or getting fat because of beer- you probably had it before you started drinking beer!

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3 thoughts on “Reeling Back From the Lite Punches

  1. EABL should know most of us believe the Tembo (Tusker)story passed down to us by the bar man at the counter. Tusker lite is spending big on concerts but leaving a bad taste in our mouth. Next time the big musicians are disturbing the peace in the wild in the name of a concert, brainstorm on how well you can save the low on everything “beer”. We will stick with the old brands till another Tembo like story reinforced with a barley taste comes through.
    Nice piece, especially when we`ve decided to stay away from anything low on calories at the cost of taste.

    • Thanks Dan. Infact, I think EABL is watering down the Tembo Brand by diversifying the brand this much. And lets get rid of these calories on our way to and from the pubs (and most of them do have stairs)

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