Heineken sees F1 link revving up beer buzz

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By ZHU WENQIAN zhuwen­qian@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Dutch pre­mium brewer Heineken NV, a spon­sor of the For­mula One race in Shanghai, said it is bullish on at­tract­ing more Chi­nese con­sumers and revving up in­ter­ests in its prod­ucts, fol­low­ing its spon­sor­ship.

Founded in Amsterdam 150 years ago, Heineken has grabbed pole po­si­tion as one of the world’s top brewers. As a longterm part­ner of For­mula One, Heineken signed a seven-year con­tract with the or­ga­niz­ers.

China ac­counts for 27 per­cent of the global beer mar­ket, and about 10 per­cent of the beer mar­ket in China is at the high­end seg­ment, the com­pany said.

Jacco van der Lin­den, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Heineken China, said Heineken has been com­mit­ted to de­vel­op­ing this seg­ment. With a grow­ing mid­dle-class pur­su­ing high-qual­ity life­styles, the brand sees huge growth po­ten­tial for its prod­ucts in China.

The ex­ec­u­tive said an in­creas­ing num­ber of Chi­nese con­sumers fa­vor craft beer, which is pos­i­tive news for the com­pany. Last year, Heineken saw solid sales growth in China, and its per­for­mance is above the mar­ket av­er­age.

“The For­mula One race has about 500 mil­lion fans glob­ally and an in­creas­ing num­ber of fans in China. This pro­vides us with a great op­por­tu­nity to turn the fans of For­mula One into Heineken con­sumers,” he said.

“As a fan my­self, I mas­sively en­joy watch­ing the For­mula One races. The cir­cuit in Shanghai is far from down­town, and we would like to bring the race closer to more Chi­nese con­sumers, to the city, the streets and bars.”

On the night of the For­mula One event in Shanghai ear­lier this month, Heineken ran sev­eral light boxes ad­ver­tis­ing on iconic build­ings in the city, and it launched a se­ries of lo­cal mar­ket­ing events at bars, su­per­mar­kets and on Tmall, a lead­ing e-com­merce plat­form of Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd.

Gian­luca di Tondo, Heineken’s se­nior global brand di­rec­tor, said in the past 15 years, the brand has changed its fo­cus to emerg­ing mar­kets and aims to grab new op­por­tu­ni­ties.

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