|When Heineken entered the UK market, the Dutch brewery had to go against it's philosophy, which was to produce a global beer that could be exported to all countries. |
Back in the 60's there was a very typical beer culture in the UK, with drinkers preferring ales and weaker beers and rarely drinking lager. As a result, Heineken decided to produce a weaker version of its popular beer, and Heineken Cold Filtered was born. To avoid this product being confused with the Heineken found elsewhere in the world, it was packaged differently and sold at a lower price.
In 1969, Heineken decided to license the brewing of Heineken Cold Filtered to Whitbread, who looked after the production of the beer locally.
Soon, Heineken became a gigantic hit in the UK. Supported by the famous and award-winning 'Heineken refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach' advertising campaign, after just 3 years 100 million pints of Heineken Cold Filtered were being consumed in the UK.
The success of Heineken Cold Filtered continued into the 80's, by which time it had become the no. 1 lager in the British beer market. By now, well over 500 million pints of Heineken were being drunk each year.
Alongside this, changes were afoot in the British beer market. Whilst back in the 60's the beer market was dominated by bitter and stout, by the late 80's lager had become so popular that it now accounted for 46% of beer sales. In addition, demand rose for higher priced premium lagers.
To meet this demand, in 1985 a premium strength Heineken beer was launched. This meant that there were now 2 Heineken products available in the UK: the popular, standard strength Heineken Cold Filtered and the premium strength Heineken Export.
During the 90's, Heineken Cold Filtered continued to be a key player in the standard lager market, and by the end of the decade it was still the no.3 brand in this sector. However, tastes of British drinkers were changing, with many of them now preferring the taste of the stronger, continental-style lagers.
As a result, premium lagers had become a major part of the beer market, with sales of standard (weaker) lagers declining. In addition to this, with increased foreign travel, British drinkers were having more opportunities to drink Heineken outside the UK, and they realised that the beer tasted better abroad.
Heineken knew that it would soon be time to make a change, and with the license Whitbread had to brew and distribute the beer ending in February 2003, the brewer would then have the chance to bring the authentic Heineken to the UK.
From 24th February 2003, Heineken as we know it in the UK changed forever.
With the license Heineken held with Whitbread expiring on 23rd Feb, from this date Heineken resumed responsibility for its brand and for the first time, the authentic, Dutch-brewed Heineken became available in the UK.
With Heineken Cold Filtered and Heineken Export quickly disappearing from bars and shelves, soon the UK will be savouring the premium quality taste of 5% Heineken, the same beer loved the world over. A new era for Heineken in the UK has begun!
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