Stella Artois Cidre – Is It A Branding Mistake?

by Paul Simister on May 25, 2011

Stella Artois Cidre is available in the UK. The famous Belgian lager/beer brand have started selling cider or as they call it cidre in the UK in the Spring of 2011.

As I’m partial to a drink of cider, I thought I’d give it a try and it’s not too bad.

But there is a problem.

The Stella Artois Brand

Stella Artois has a very strong brand.

Say “I’ll have a Stella” to a barman and he’ll know exactly what you mean.

Not any more?

If you ask for a Stella, do you want a lager/beer or cider?

This is another example of a company being lazy with it’s branding.

Sure Stella Artois is well known and it commands respect.

But by extending the brand from the lager/beer to cider, it’s lost its meaning.

It’s created doubt and obscured one of the best known, most focused drinks brands with its famous tagline “reassuringly expensive”.

This breaks the laws of branding.

Worse, it is another example of action taken by a big company which can encourage small businesses into making similar mistakes.

Stella Artois May Be Successful

Stella Artois Cidre may be very successful. The company has wide distribution and relationships with all the major supermarkets and it has the money to promote heavily and discount to encourage consumers to sample it.

That doesn’t make it a branding success.

In fact, the more successful Stella Artois Cidre,  the more damage it does to the clear meaning of the brand Stella Artois.

What Do You Think Of Decision To Brand Stella Artois Cidre As Stella?

I’d like to know what you think about the branding.

If you’re a traditional Stella drinker, does the brand name make you want to try Cidre or do you still think “I don’t like cider.”

Or if, like me, you enjoy drinking cider, does the Stella Artois brand tempt you to try it and does it add to your perception of the drink?

Please let me know by leaving a comment.

Paul Simister is a strategy coach who helps small business owners to profit from differentiating their businesses, by being distinctive in the eyes of their customers and standing out in a crowded marketplace…. in other words, by building a business to be proud of.

You too can move past your profit tipping point (free report) by answering the seven big questions of business success.

{ 4 comments }

Ryan Healy May 25, 2011 at 4:23 pm

I agree: Stella selling cider does seem a bit odd. Perhaps a better idea would have been to create a new brand for the cider — then leverage current distribution channels to get it in liquor stores and bars. Maybe call it “Le Cidre”? 😉

Paul Simister May 25, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Thanks Ryan for your comment.
They are obviously trying hard with Cidre but they should have been more imaginative. In the UK there are a couple of traditional cider regions so the idea of a European cider would be quite intriguing and different.

Paul Simister May 27, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Here’s an interesting article from Marketing week which also takes a critical view of Stella Artois extending their brand to cider which I didn’t read until I checked on how well my posting was doing in the search engines and found it one place above.

I particularly liked the comparison with Levi’s suits, Pond’s toothpaste, Harley-Davidson cake decorations and Aston Martin’s economy car.

http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/sectors/food-and-drink/alcohol/why-stella-and-cider-is-not-a-good-mix/3023251.article

Paul Simister August 19, 2011 at 12:01 pm

I may think that Stella Artois Cidre is a branding mistake but results from the first first months after launch say that it has grabbed 16% of the cider market.

It’s thought that Stella Artois Cidre is attracting new people to drinking cider but inevitably it will also have taken share away from other brands.

http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/sectors/food-and-drink/ab-inbev-buoyed-by-stella-cidre-success/3029206.article

Stella Artois Cidre was heavily promoted at launch with plenty of posters and big discounts in the supermarkets.

I tried it, thought it was OK but can’t see me buying it in preference to my beloved Merrydown. Mind you, since the price increase and the shrink in bottle size from 1 litre to 750ml, I’ve stopped drinking that too.

One thing made me laugh because I was reading some of the reviews about Stella Artois Cidre and it seems that their tagline could be “Cidre, the cider that has a lager after taste.”

That’s a bit harsh but is perhaps inevitable because the brand Stella Artois means lager.

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