Elvira stirring up a line of her own craft beer

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Every Halloween for nearly 10 years, Elvira pitched Coors beer nationwide. This year, she's poised to take her own bite of the market with a line of brews from Beverage International.

Unofficially called the Elvira Brew line, Beverage International expects to have it on shelves nationwide by late spring.

"We know there will be a year-round product, a Halloween beer and probably a third product down the road," said a Beverage International spokeswoman.

CRAFTING A PLAN

And though production on the beer has yet to begin--and marketing strategy, budget size and an agency are still undecided--Elvira already seems to know its customers.

"This product will compete in the craft beer segment," the spokeswoman said. "Those consumers are young, adventuresome and like high-quality products."

Craft--or specialty--beer is defined generally as having a heavier body and taste than mainstream brews, and can come from microbreweries or major brewers. And as much as consumers appear to like these brands, they're not too loyal to any particular beer.

"Much of the beer industry is flat, but craft beers are really soaring--people want something new and different," the spokeswoman said.

"In today's beer world, not as many people fall on their swords for their brand of beer," said Bob Fox, chief operating officer of Beverage International. "Many people are trying different brands for the new experience."

BREWING GROWTH

Craft beers/microbrews have claimed a 4% to 5% market share and, after recent years of heady 50% growth, are still leaping forward at 30% to 40% gains annually, according to Impact Databank.

Though Elvira's marketers expect a spike of sales around Halloween--moving, they hope, between 500,000 and 1 million cases for that period--they expect sustained appeal year-round.

"We're certainly going to optimize on Halloween, but we think there are lots of holiday and other promotional bases," said Mike Willey, VP-marketing.

Beverage International doesn't think Elvira's newfound independence will confuse consumers around Halloween.

And, of course, Adolph Coors Co. will have something to say about that, too.

"We're already at work on a new major promotion for the Halloween slot," said Dave Taylor, Coors' corporate communications manager.

Copyright February 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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