It’s been an unfortunate situation for the beer brand, Corona, having their name associated with the infectious disease. Every minute, new information about the coronavirus is causing chaos in every town and city around the world. With all the conversations about the virus, what does that mean for the beer brand? I’ll dive deep into 3 aspects of this question – the brand, sales, and the future of Corona beer.
According to Forbes, Corona beer is the world’s 70th most valuable brand in 2019 with a value of $10.1 billion (Forbes, 2019). Clearly, Corona is an enormous fish in the sea of beer brands. Although the virus is not related to the brand, having a name associated with a global epidemic has been quite detrimental to their brand.
This situation has confused consumers with online searches for the “corona beer virus” increasing 2,300% globally (Bostock, 2020).
As well, misinformation circulating online of a possible link between the virus and brand has created a PR nightmare for the Corona brand. However, some consumers have found humor in this situation. Hilarious social media posts and memes relating the beer to the virus have surfaced, with the hashtag #CoronaBeerVirus gaining “over 1.5 million impressions since the beginning of the year” (Lacy, 2020). Nonetheless, there are other issues with Corona’s brand image during this time, including the fact that it’s associated with beach vacations, which is an activity everyone is avoiding. Perhaps the universe is saying that it’s time for Corona to reinvent their brand image to be more relevant.
It’s no doubt that since the coronavirus has impacted the Corona brand, that it affects their sales. 5W Public Relations’ survey of over 700 American beer drinkers discovered that
38% “would not buy Corona under any circumstances now” and 14% “wouldn’t order Corona in public” (Lacy, 2020).
Another survey from a London research firm YouGov shows that “purchase intent for Corona beer hit its lowest level in two years” (Bruce, 2020). However, surveys aren’t always representations of reality. According to Constellation Brands, the importer of Corona to the U.S. “Corona Extra sales grew 5% in the United States” between mid-January to mid-February, which is almost double their sales trend of 2019 (Valinsky, 2020). This makes up for some of their lost sales from big international markets like China. Nevertheless, with an economic crisis going on, the sales decline for Corona beer may be more severe than its competitors due to its link with the virus.
The Future of Corona Beer
This situation is far beyond the control of Constellation Brands, despite their PR team's attempts to stay optimistic amidst negative press. However, I think their PR team needs to do more to gain control of this scenario. I’m a strong believer of the saying by American showman, P.T. Barnum “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump are prime examples of this famous saying, leveraging their publicity for personal gain.
I think Constellation Brands should do the same with Corona - make "lemonade." When I’ve been to pubs in the past weeks, bartenders have mentioned an increase in Corona beer purchases because of the coronavirus; and customers posting it on social media.
This proves that the brand's link to the virus has contributed to a spike in user-generated content for the Corona brand, which is free publicity.
This helps Corona beer to improve its brand recognition in the minds of their consumers and gain a competitive advantage over strong competitors like Coors and Budweiser.
In the past weeks, Constellation Brands have been increasing its marketing for the launch of a new Corona hard seltzer (Valinsky, 2020). Although hard seltzer is trending, it would be wise for Constellation Brands