Impact of Coronavirus on Corona Beer

Was Coronavirus Named After the Beer? In 2015, the WHO issued the “Best Practices for the Naming of New Human Infectious Diseases” to prevent diseases from being named after their place of origin, or the species of animal from which the disease originated - examples include Spanish flu, bird flu and swine flu. This was done to prevent the communities and animals involved being stigmatised as this has provoked fear and blame in the past. 

Impact of Coronavirus on Corona Beer
[image:pexels by oleg magni]

Following best practices, Coronavirus was named after “Corona” (the latin word for crown) due to its appearance when observed under a microscope. While this name was a seemingly harmless choice, evidence shows that the public quickly made a link between the virus and popular beer brand, Corona. 

Google trends data shows that the start of the pandemic marked a surge in searches for the terms ‘beer virus’, ‘corona beer virus’ and ‘beer coronavirus’. Volumes for these searches continued to increase as the unfortunate name clash with the Coronavirus pandemic incited a flurry of memes and online articles about the beer. This leads us to ask the age old question - is any publicity, good publicity?

Corona Beer Brand Value 2020

While 2020 was a year of immense change for all businesses, possibly the most affected was AB InBev - the owner of Corona beer. 

Online speculation predicted that the brand’s reputation would be damaged and this would lead to a decline in sales for Corona beer. However, others argued that this was an unfounded parallel to make. So what really happened? - let’s take a look at the facts:

Corona’s value dropped from £6.4 billion to £6.3 billion, meaning Corona beer faced a drop of £112 million in brand value.

2x US surveys revealed that 38% of Americans would not buy Corona beer under any circumstances. These surveys also indicated that consumers’ intent to purchase the beer at this time was lower than any other point in the past 2 years.

While these figures are concerning, it does not show the full picture, especially when considering the impact of coronavirus on the alcohol market overall.

Impact of Coronavirus on Corona Beer vs. Other Beers

Despite the drop in brand value in 2020, Corona maintained top spot as the world’s most valuable beer brand. It beat out Heineken, Budweiser and Bud Light, as well as several other large beer brands. In addition to this, the brand continued to grow rapidly, following a high pre-covid growth rate of 21% in 2019. If you’re a fan of Corona and looking to contribute to this statistic in 2020, try Liquorland's collection of beers. 

Also, despite the results of surveys on consumer intent, US statistics from the 4 weeks leading up to 16 February 2020 show Corona Extra sales increased by 5% - this was almost double the trend over the past year. 

So how exactly is Corona maintaining this impressive position despite the negative press? To answer this question we need to take a closer look at how consumer preferences have changed as a result of the pandemic.

Yearning For Comfort In a Time of Uncertainty

The pandemic and lockdown measures completely uprooted most of our lives. During a time of so much uncertainty, it is unsurprising that most people chose to cling onto the familiar. This is consistent with beer and alcohol trends for 2020 which saw a return in popularity to more traditional brands. 

This was a sharp change from the rising popularity of craft beers over recent years. Many brand managers of traditional beers used this to their advantage by shifting their campaigns to focus on comfort rather than excitement, and evidently were highly successful. However, Corona’s strategy was slightly different.

Corona Beer’s Efforts To Combat Negative Press

Faced with a swarm of negative publicity, the marketing department had a big challenge at hand. Ultimately, they had 3 options: change the name of the brand, confront the issue head on or lay low. They chose to go with the latter option which has proven to have a positive result. 

Other brands who have faced similar issues in the past, have combated the issue using various methods with mixed results. In this case, Corona’s choice to do nothing is understandable as changing the name of the brand would be a very complex procedure and speaking out could spark more issues, given that there is no real link between the pandemic and the brand.  

It is undeniable that the Coronavirus pandemic has had a real impact on Corona beer’s brand. However, whether or not this impact will persist for the long term is yet to be seen.

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