World’s most valuable beer brand? How d’ya figure, Bud?
The only lingering remnant of the once-mighty SABMiller is Castle Lager, which scrapes in at number 25
The world’s top beer brands by value are the rather unremarkable, fewer-calories Bud Light, followed by the uninspiring Budweiser, with the most-admired red-star premium beer Heineken third.
The descriptors are my opinion, but also the shared view of discerning beer aficionados. US brands collectively account for more than a third of the value of global beer brands, followed by Brazil and the Netherlands.
These stats are from Brand Finance, a global authority that recently published a report on the world’s 25 most valuable brands, aptly titled “Beers 25 2018”. The report uses the Royalty Relief approach, a brand valuation method that involves estimating the likely future revenues that are attributable to a brand by calculating a royalty rate that would be charged for its use.
Brand Finance reports that AB InBev owns 13 of the world’s top 25 brands by value. Only family-controlled Heineken, at number three, prevents it from making a clean sweep of the world’s top five. Besides owning number one and two brands, being Bud Light and Budweiser, it also owns places four through to seven with Brahma, Harbin, Corona Extra and Skol; and numbers 15, 16, 17, 20, 22, 23 and 25 in the forms of Stella Artois, Busch, Aguila, Cass, Natural, Antarctica and Castle.
Brahma is a staple in the AB InBev stable, having been part of the Brazilian brewer for years. Harbin, at number five, comes from China’s oldest brewery operation and is the world’s fastest-growing beer brand, up 69% year on year in terms of brand value. Brewing in China is growing rapidly, hardly surprising considering it has the world’s largest population, which is also rapidly urbanising.
Number seven brand Skol has an interesting history. Originally brewed by Ind Coope in Alloa, Scotland, in the late 1950s, ownership has changed hands regularly. In 1964, Skol International was established with the intention to create the world’s first global beer brand. Skol is now predominantly a Brazilian beer, with AB InBev holding the rights to brew it in South America. Unibra holds the African brewing rights and Carlsberg can brew it in the rest of the world. Like the two Buds, it is not overly inspiring, but decades of clever marketing have conferred huge value to this brand.
Moving down the brand-value league table, Japanese Kirin comes in eighth, Coors Light ninth and Irish Guinness, which can be found in the Diageo stable, ranks number 10 and is unquestionably the world’s most-admired dark beer. Its volumes may not be huge, and it remains an acquired taste for some, but its bitter, silky-smooth experience is highly sought-after by beer connoisseurs.
The only lingering remnant of the once-mighty SABMiller, which is now part of AB InBev, is Castle Lager, which scrapes into the individual brand rankings at number 25.
Geographically, the US dominates, holding 34% of the total value of global beer brand value, which Brand Finance puts at $1.3-trillion. Brazil is second with 13% and the Netherlands, due to Heineken and Amstel, third with 11%. China is fourth, Mexico fifth and Japan sixth.
The notable performance of the US is due largely to its relatively high consumption, at about 75 litres per capita per annum. But what is remarkable is that this outstanding brand value performance has been achieved entirely on the back of mainstream, rather than premium, beers.
Mainstream beers are commoditised products and significantly cheaper than their premium counterparts, and intuitively one would assume they would have a lower brand value. All credit to this achievement, however the only distinguishing feature of US beers is their blandness, appreciated by the not-too-fussy consumer.
Thankfully that is changing with the rapidly growing appreciation of craft beers by the more discerning US drinker. Chris Gilmour is an investment analyst.