Heineken USA refers to Desperados as a "spirited
beer." It has 6% alcohol by volume, which equals the alcohol
content of Platinum, but is lower than Fortune's 6.9%.
Heineken USA has also launched Dos-A-Rita, a Dos Equis
line extension that weighs in at 7.2% ABV. The importer refers to
it as a "ready-to-serve lager margarita made with 100 percent real
Agave nectar" and Dos Equis beer. On the other end of the ABV
scale, Heineken USA has launched Amstel Radler at 2% ABV, which is
comprised of 40% Amstel lager and 60% lemon juice.
Desperados is a made by combining lager that is aged
in tequila barrels for a few months, then blended with beer that is
mixed with tequila and lemon flavors. While the product has trace
amounts of tequila, it is technically classified as a malt
Tequila-flavored beer is not unprecedented in the
states. Anheuser-Busch several years ago marketed a brand called
Tequiza, which burst out of the gate in 1999 backed by significant
advertising spending, but later floundered.
Heineken USA is bullish on Desperados partly because
of its barrel aged positioning, which Mr. Esquer said speaks to
"the craftsmanship of the product." Barrel-aging is trendy in the
states, with craft beers and liquor brands playing it up in
marketing. (The Desperados formula sold overseas does not include
the barrel-aged process.)
Desperados is especially popular in France, where as
of 2012 it was the fifth-ranked beer brand with 3% market share, up
from 2% in 2006, according to the latest available data from
Euromonitor International. According to Mr. Esquer, Desperados now
has 4% of the beer market in the country, and is the No. 1 alcohol
brand among millennial consumers.