But while those two thrashed it out in 1993, a third player, Cervejarias Kaiser Brasil, headquartered in Campinas in the state of SÌo Paulo, made quiet inroads, thanks to an innovative marketing strategy masterminded by VP-Marketing Antonio Carlos Ribeiro da Silva.
It worked so well, in fact, that Kaiser managed to raise its share from 11.4% in 1992 to 13.5% last year, all with only a $13 million marketing budget, roughly one third of what each of the big two breweries invested.
Mr. Ribeiro's plan was to introduce new products in niches not previously explored in the market. The result was Kaiser Bock, introduced last May and supported by a $3 million TV, radio and print campaign created by DPZ Propaganda here.
The campaign explained that Bock's higher alcohol content (6.5% compared to the 4.7% average of most Brazilian beers) is better suited to the country's June-to-September winter season. The ads ended with a shot of the Bock bottle wrapped in a scarf.
"Bock altered the moment people associated with beer drinking by offering them a beer for winter," said the 48-year-old Mr. Ribeiro. The beer was so successful that Kaiser had to maintain production of Bock throughout the year and is stepping up the output for the upcoming winter.
"During the summer Bock still has about 0.6% volume share of the national market, and last winter it cornered a good share in areas where the winter is more rigorous," he explains. It reached a share of 4.5% in Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil's southernmost state, and 6% in Curitiba, the capital of Parana.
The dark beer thus made a major contribution not only to Kaiser's increasing market share last year, but also to its image as a trailblazer. Mr. Ribeiro is now seeking to consolidate that image with a product aimed at expanding Brazilians' taste in beer.
In February Kaiser poured out a so-called "white" beer that, unlike all other beers on the market, is brewed from a wheat and barley mix. The $2 million ad campaign, also from DPZ, bears the slogan, "The lively flavor, refreshing and different."