Heineken, which bills itself as “the world’s most international brewer”, is stepping up its drive into the premium beer market in Mexico. It’s going to be tough, for two reasons.
First, beer is ubiquitous in Mexico – and very, very cheap (a bottle of beer is not far off the price of a bottle of water). So persuading consumers to switch from their cheap lager of choice to a premium brand, at higher cost, sounds like a tough sell. (To put that into perspective – premium brand beers only account less than 5 per cent of Mexico’s $7.5bn beer market, Heineken says.)
The second hurdle is competition: Heineken, which bought Mexico’s No. 2 brewer Femsa Cerveza in 2010 (and has a stable that also includes Tecate, Dos Equis, Sol, Bohemia and Indio), is up against the larger Modelo brewery (maker of Corona and Estrella beer), which was taken over this year by Belgium’s AB InBev and has 58 per cent of the market to Heineken’s 41 per cent.