analyst notes 'Authenticity' aspect to beat away bud light competition

Heineken’s Lager Margarita...A Bud Light Rita beater?

Dos Equis lager: Just add margarita flavors!

Heineken will launch lager margaritas in the US from April as it bids to replicate the success of Anheuser Busch InBev’s Bud Light Ritas line.

Heineken’s Dos-A-Rita launch differs from AB InBev’s (ABI’s) in that it uses a splash of Dos Equis lager, where use of the brew from its Mexican import portfolio is perhaps the key point of difference from mainstream premium light Bud Light.

Another difference is the fact that the 7.2% ABV drink ‘with natural flavors and caramel color’ is sweetened with agave nectar, a ‘natural’ sweetener that is principally fructose.

Surprisingly large 24oz (680ml) single-serve cans and 8oz (227ml) cans in 12 packs will be trialled across southern and mid-western states.

Namely, Texas, Arizona, California, Nevada, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, New Mexico North Carolina, South Carolina and Alabama.

'More premium and authentic lager margarita'

Predictably, and perhaps with Bud Light Lime Ritas in its sights, Monique Acevedo, VP of innovation at Heineken USA, is talking up the drink’s status “as a more premium and authentic lager margarita that leverages the strength and momentum of the Dos Equis brand”.

“Independent research confirms that Dos-A-Rita generates strong interest among 22-34 year-old consumers and is viewed as an exciting product,” she added, noting double-digit growth for Dos Equis across all channels.

Reflecting on the launch, Amin Alkhatib, US alcoholic drinks analyst for Euromonitor International told "Initially it is the offering of something different that is attracting consumers, but the aspect of ‘authenticity’ is a plus for Heineken to beat away competition from the Bud Light mixed beer range." 

Acevedo said 197% year-on-year growth in flavored/mixed beer sales (the highest rate of growth in the category) showed that consumers in the LDA+ group in particular were more open to experimentation and variety beyond regular beer.

It will be interesting to see if Heineken USA extends distribution in time, and even adds to it – given that the Dos Equis website recommends four cocktails  using the beer – a Michelada (with lime juice) Sidra (a lager, cider, blackcurrent mix) and Mosa (lager with orange juice) as well as a Dos-Arita.

Beer category need young blood

Former Heineken executive John Hunt, latterly the brewer's head of global strategy, is developing his own beer brand, and yesterday he told that big beer was working hard to keep the category young and vital.

“The big brewers have not been slow to bring forward their innovations in terms of different kinds of drinks…in America InBev have been successful with the Lime-A-Ritas and say they’re bring a lot of new people into the beer category,” he said.

“And that’s what the beer category needs – the big challenge for brewers is ensuring beer stays relevant to younger drinkers,” Hunt added.

“Look at bars and clubs. Is beer front of mind? It always used to be – but there are other innovations in spirits, malternatives, hard ciders, especially in the US, and let us not forget, craft beer has also been hugely successful," he said.

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