John Alvarado on Corona’s New Light Beer: “It Will Be Synonymous With Success”

What: We talked to John Alvarado, VP, brand marketing at Constellation Brands, about the launch of the new Corona Premier.
Why it matters: It's the first time in 29 years that Corona distributors in the U.S. have found an opportunity to introduce a new product to the market, and they are very confident it will be well received by consumers.

Constellation Brands' John Alvarado

Since Corona was born in 1925, it has tried to become an example of refinement and good taste. When it was first exported to the U.S., it quickly became the best-selling alcoholic beverage, and now it is available all around the world. For a long time, consumers have been able to enjoy two varieties of this product: the classic Corona Extra and later Corona Light, first introduced to the U.S. market in 1989. There had not been any new Corona products since then until the opportunity for a new light beer was identified recently, 29 years later. Constellation Brands, the Fortune 500 company that distributes Corona beer in the United States, has launched Corona Premier, with 2.6g of carbs and 90 calories per bottle. We talked to John Alvarado, VP, Brands Marketing at Constellation Brands, to find out how this new product was conceived and how it plans to reach its target.

Living the Corona Lifestyle

When looking at the Corona logo, it's difficult to miss the regal vibes it transmits. It's not only the symbolic weight of the crown but also all the other elements on the label that have long positioned the brand as something great. From the typography that refers to years of experience, to the legend presenting it as "The finest beer", Corona has earned its place among connoisseurs.

In the words of John Alvarado, it is "a very strong and emotional brand that really has transcended the beer category. The logo with the crown carries a lot of meaning for consumers across the world." Consumers don't only like the product itself, but also what the brand represents. "They want more of it in their lives," says Alvarado. "Saber vivir or 'knowing how to live a good life' has been the essence of all the Corona brands and how they're unified." And that's the core value behind the creation of Corona Premier: a refined light beer experience that "will be synonymous with success, achievement, maturity."

Not All Coronas Are Created Equal

Or rather, they're not targeted the same. Extensive research has shown Constellation Brands that 43% of light-beer drinkers are males 35+, and so the company found a new consumer whose needs and expectations could be explored further. Corona Extra is already the number one export beer, while Corona Light is the number one import light beer in the U.S. "We've been doing some homework in terms of consumer needs and consumer opportunities," tells us John Alvarado. "Finding out what else we could deliver from a Corona perspective. Based on the research, this consumer was looking for a light beer that met their current needs and lifestyle."

The differences between Corona Light and Corona Premier could be hard to pinpoint, but as Alvarado explains, "There's an opportunity to move consumers from their current light beer choice to a more premium beer experience." 48% of Corona Light's drinkers are female, while Corona Premier is targeting males. "When we did our research and when consumers tasted the liquid, 85% said they would purchase it. It's a very strong purchase intent," he shares.

World Cup Year... Not For Corona Premier

One thing is having your target consumer clear, and another entirely is how to reach them effectively. "We have a very strong marketing plan to reach them, make them aware of what it is and get them to try it," points out Alvarado. "That plan includes TV, out-of-home, digital and social media." What we didn't expect to hear was that as part of the media plan Constellation Brands has designed, one of the strongest passion points of the target consumer is golf. Even though this year many marketers are taking advantage of the soccer World Cup, and seeing how it could make sense for alcoholic beverage brands to take advantage of this connection between soccer and beer, particularly Mexican beer, we were surprised to find out that Corona Premier will be focusing on a different sports opportunity. "We will have an extensive golf presence," comments Alvarado," including live golf, sponsorships, golf channel brand integrations, as well as full sponsorship of the American Championship in Dallas in the middle of the summer." This new premium product is going where nobody else is going this year, and confidently.

Elevating the Brand to its Highest Standards

The whole idea behind Corona Premier, as we've seen, is bringing a more premium light beer to consumers, one that aligns with the Corona lifestyle. "We're giving consumers the opportunity to premiumize their light beer choice, which is something he has not yet offered," says Alvarado. "It's not going after the competition, but more about capturing the opportunity that this male consumer has been waiting for. There’s a premiumization that’s occurring across every aisle in the store, and Corona is positioned very well to take advantage of that given its strength as well as tradition position in the high-end, on the premium side of the business."

What Others Can Learn From Corona's Effort

Launching a new product to market, especially after such a long time, is not an easy endeavor. We asked John Alvarado for the key insights behind a successful launch, and his primary piece of advice has to do with consumer research. "At Constellation Brands we are constantly trying to understand where the consumer is going, what are their needs. We make segmentation analysis for demographics and targets to help us understand what consumers are searching for," he explains. For Corona Premier, his team did a full year of research to make sure they knew everything about consumers' needs and responses before launching the product. "I would encourage marketers to test ideas in market, learn from that, and be disciplined in a sense of trying to make sure you stay true to the original objective instead of bending it to make the test successful," he recommends.

I would encourage marketers to test ideas in market, learn from that, and ... make sure you stay true to the original objective instead of bending it to make the test successful.

As Alvarado says, marketers need to "do their homework", which most times translates into being "honest and true to both the consumers and the business." Corona Premier is already available nationwide, and its creators at Constellation Brands can't wait to see the fruit of their hard work.


Janet Grynberg @grynberg_janet

Janet has worked as editor and translator since 2013. After graduating with honors when receiving her Bachelor's Degree in English literature, she began working as a book reviewer for Expansión, the leading business magazine in Mexico. She has also worked as editor of young adult literature for publishing houses like Planeta and Penguin, and she's the author of a book of short stories. She's in the process of getting her MA in English at McGill University. Her interests include arts, good food, and her 8 pets.

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