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Guinness Brewery: Strategic Brand Management

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Guinness Brewery: Strategic Brand Management

Brand is, according to Davidson (1995), “a collection of attributes which strongly influence purchase”. The aim of this writing is to evaluate the brand Guinness and determinate attributes of it which give the desire to purchase for customers. Brand and customer equity, then the Customer Based Brand Equity Model and the advantage of branding will be respectively described and discussed during the writing. The Guinness brewery is a famous Irish beers producer. The brewery born in 1759 at Dublin’s St James’ Gate owned by the founder Arthur Guinness. He started by produce Porter beers which was exported from London to Dublin and was famous at this time. Then in the 1790s he had the idea to create his own beer in the same style: “porter” and “stout” beers, relatively new on the Irish market. It became Diageo in 1997, after a merger with Grand Metropolitan, largely oriented in alcohol and spirituous production. Two divisions have born of this merger, United Distillers; the spirits business and Guinness Brewery Worldwide which manage all the beers business with brand like Guinness, Kilkenny, Cruzcampo etc.

The brand evaluate in a mature market in Ireland, consequently, it targets other countries but try to stay in the same market to keep their brand image adapting with customers needs and tastes. Nowadays Guinness is one of the beers the most sold in the world. According to Park, Jaworski and Maclnnis (1991) branded product bring three main benefits to customers. We can analyse them in link with the Guinness brand. Firstly, there is the functional benefit, with Guinness it is to quench one’s thirst. Secondly, there is the symbolic effect. For Guinness it means to do part of a community, people who likes good beers who have taste or be part of the Irish or Celtic culture. Thirdly, there is the experimental effect which means how do you feel after test it, in the case of Guinness, you can fell relax and satisfied with a good taste in mouth.

The brand equity theory according to Simon and Sullivan (1993) is from intangible factors: image, reputation and brand loyalty. Guinness has a good image, authentic, Celtic and Irish stout beer. Moreover it is a well know beer, with good reputation, one of the most famous dark beer in the world. Then for brand loyalty, it is important to notice than over ten million people in the world drink a Guinness every day. However, according to Kapferer (1997), brand equity is built from intangible factors added to tangible factors such as quality, design, patents, and reliability. The Guinness brand identity is built from 3 main principles: the product, the experience of drinking the product, and its history. It is known for is quality and an inimitable and traditional know how. It is a taste, a kind of beer which inspires lot of other dark beers. It has a particular design, simple and cultural aspect with strong symbol as the Harp and the Toucan. It is also a way to serve it in order to the bubbles stabilizes and a way of drink. Guinness has its own style. Therefore, to protect this unique style Guinness is a trademark and owns patents for several innovations such as the “floating widget” for imitate the draught beer taste in cans. On other hand, modernizing the brand identity and keep it trendy with lot of advertises, Guinness had known improve its impact and appeal on consumer, while keeping its historical value. It targets new customers of the new generation thank to dynamic and sport image, funny advertising or developing Guinness World Records (events, advertising, news, television…)

Rust, Zeithmal and Lemon create the customer equity model (2000), which determinate elements as value equity grouping quality, price and convenience, the brand equity and finally the relationship equity containing brand loyalty, the community and knowledge. Guinness is a product of quality and culture and it is also a historical and mystique product. Moreover, Guinness is a star product it is the soul and one of the wealth of Ireland that is why the Irish famous writer James Joyce says that Guinness is “the wine of the country”. On other hand, in Africa, a well targeted market, the beer is considered such as a male reward and an aphrodisiac. Customers who do not know stout and want to taste do not look at all the price but the brand name, reputation and quality, so obviously, seeing the Guinness name they can conclude to quality and strong brand image and buy the product rather another. Added to that, Guinness is the more draught beer sold in the world because it is the soul of the brand and the best way to enjoy it. Consequently, in a pub customers come for spent a good time and are more focusing and this and quality than price so even if Guinness is more expensive they do not matter a lot. Guinness history is very close to Ireland history, the brand name and its Harp not represent only the symbol of the famous stout but above all Ireland overseas. The Harp is the symbol of the Irish State created in 1922, but it was already the symbol of Guinness since 1862. This allows us to create in real relationship and community with Irish or Celtic customers in the whole world.

According to the “Customer Based Brand Equity” pyramid model of Keller (1993), it is possible to describe step by step the Guinness brand management. This model shows different elements which are the key of building a successfully brand. At the bottom of the pyramid, there is the “salience”, the start point of brand awareness. It is composed by the depth of awareness how a customer recognizes and recalls it. Guinness it is recognizable thanks to its logo the harp its colour and also its taste. Then, there is the breadth of awareness. This traduces the position of the customer from the consumption or purchase of the brand. A customer like or not Guinness and he knows why. He likes the extra stout draught in a pub for instance but he does not like it in cans, or he does not like it because he finds it too bland, or he just does know, but he can have an opinion of it according to the name, logo, communication etc. Moreover, following the “salience” there is a step divided in two; “performance” on one side and “imagery” on the other.

They represent respectively the tangible and intangible factors of the brand identity. On one hand, the “performance” groups the specifics features of the product. Guinness is a dark stout beer of Ireland, highly roasted for sweetness in mouth with a little bitterness. In term of benefits, drink a Guinness is refreshing and relaxing. Then, Guinness has its own style and design with the name, the logo, the original signature of Arthur Guinness on a traditional oval buff bottle label. To protect all this aspect, Guinness has decided to use the “Total Quality Management”. It allows them to sustain and improve the quality of the product from the production to the distribution in superstore or in pubs. The system secures the quality of raw materials, then control the brewery and packaging process and to finish it uses beer testing and feed back of point of sale to guarantee the perfect pint. On other hand, “imagery” represents the specific features of customers of the brand. Several years ago man worker between older than 35 years was the main customers, but now everybody drink it, old young, man and woman. Beyond of Ireland borders consumers of Guinness are more consider as amateur of beer, in the middle or high social class. Generally it is a convivial consumption, with friends in a pub or quietly at home. Afterwards, there is another step which describes different factors which determines the desire of purchasing of customers. This step is split in two, the first one called “judgement” and the other one called “feelings”.

First of all, “judgement” part contains elements which differentiate the brand of others. Guinness is one of the first stout beers on the market inspiriting of Porter’s beers to create its own style and taste. Consequently, it is a reference in the dark and stout beer market. If you like this kind of beer you obviously like Guinness. Compare to other brand, this is perhaps not the best quality because it does not own several awards or international distinctions, but it adapts to customers taste and needs. Indeed, if Guinness is as strong as that it is because it fits to everyone. For example, there is Guinness extra stout for Ireland and Great Britain globally, and foreign extra stout for specific countries or regions with the same expectations. The second part “imagery” describes benefits brought to consumer by the purchasing of this product. Therefore, consume Guinness is a social approval and self respect it permits to say “I am someone who have taste and culture”. It allows showing that you are adventurer or sportive trying something different related to sport like rugby or extreme and surf sports. Globally, its consumers can feel member of a social group: middle high social class, adventurer, sportive or also part of Irish or Celtic culture. The final step is called “resonance” and shows why customers are attached to the brand and will buy this product rather another each time. It describes the relationship between the brand and the consumer. This step is the more important because it allows the brand to establish a kind of loyalty, attachment or engagement of its consumers and create a community. Customers in this case will buy the product whenever they can rather than another and this is visible in Ireland when one in every two pints sold is a Guinness. Moreover Guinness had known create a community sponsoring lot of sportive event like rugby with the Guinness Area 22 which is the name of the 2010 six nations championship, and sponsored until 2010 the Premiership Rugby.

If branding represents a part as important in Guinness business model, it is because it permits to multiply profits and sustainability creating a brand loyalty. Thank to brand loyalty Guinness is stronger than competitors, it is the classic stout with historical roots and attractive and adapted to contemporary consumer desires. It allows the brand to fix the price of the uniqueness so get large margins and is more focusing on quality than price. Consequently, Guinness is more efficient and effective in marketing communication and this contributes to install the brand on the long run. Finally, consumers are more aware and in favour of changing, news and brand extensions because they trust in the name, logo, label etc.

This writing highlights the successful of Guinness brand management model based on several points. The Guinness brand identity is built from 3 main principles: the product, the experience of drinking the product, and its history. Actually, it adopts a “Total Quality Management” to respect these principles.That permits to create, develop and maintain an authentic and unique know how and brand image to become the most famous stout beer in world. It built its success thank to strong symbol as the Harp and the Toucan very close to Ireland history to become a star product of Ireland. Moreover, Guinness had known modernizing the brand touching new generation of customers while keeping its historical value. Thanks to a sustainable strategy creating a brand loyalty this permits to improve their consumers retaining existing customers and gets new one to multiply profits.

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