| July 07, 2014
I am always intrigued by examples of brands that mean one thing at home and another abroad. When I wrote my book, The Global Brand, one of my basic themes was that brands do not need to be exactly the same in every country. In fact, going abroad may offer the opportunity to reposition your brand in a way that it could never achieve at home.
One such example is Peroni Nastro Azzuro. In its homeland of Italy, Peroni is a mass-market brand, perceived to be cheaper than the average. Nastro Azzuro is Peroni’s upmarket brand and – presumably to help it command a price premium – does not carry the Peroni name.
Over the years, Peroni has improved its salience but remained undifferentiated. Share has grown but not its ability to command a price premium. Unfortunately, Nastro Azzuro, which is perceived as more expensive than regular Peroni, has not been able to justify its own price premium. Its marketing has failed to establish a differentiated positioning that justifies paying more for the brand.
In 2003, Birra Peroni was acquired by SABMiller, a company that understands that one size fits all sometimes fits no one when it comes to marketing. SABMiller decided to leverage the Peroni brand by launching it in the UK. However, they chose to recombine the Peroni and Nastro Azzuro names and leveraged the brand’s Italian origins as strongly as possible. The launch was successful and its success widely noted in the industry.
More recently, Peroni Nastro Azzuro has been advertised on TV using images designed to evoke what was described to me as “the Golden Age of Italy.” Have a look at this ad and see how it references sixties nostalgia, stereotypical images of Italy and premium brand cues: flying boats, carefree lifestyle and powerboats. To an Italian, it seems outmoded and unconvincing. To a Brit, it triggers aspirational desires for an Italy that owes its origins more to books and films more than it does any reality.
Mass-market beer is pretty much an undifferentiated market. The vast majority of people cannot tell one beer from another unless branded – not many product categories require double blind taste testing to establish the true degree of preference between alternative products – so positioning is everything. In adopting an Italian lifestyle positioning in the UK, Peroni was able to stand out from the crowd and be different enough to justify a premium positioning. The end result has been that the brand has almost doubled its market share in five years while commanding a price premium.
One last point before I close. When I showed my Italian colleagues the UK Peroni advertising, they were non-plussed. The imagery and lifestyle shown were far removed from their everyday experience. One commented that another well-known Italian brand had explored using such an approach and it did not work. The lesson to be learned is that what works well at home may not work well abroad and vice versa.
So what do you think of the Peroni example? Why was it so successful in the UK? Please share your thoughts.