Home' Brewers Guardian Digital Magazine : November 2014 Contents they come from. They do not want to be fooled.”
Coupled with this is reference to the German
Purity law, the Reinheitsgebot. It’s a construct
that Krombacher builds upon with reference to
the quality of the water used, drawn from 48
wells in the region. In marketing communications
this is Felsquellwasser – literally ‘natural spring
rock water’ – and usefully for purposes of brand
distinction, it is a trademarked term.
Finally, a bit dull but so vitally important, is
customer service. Braun notes that some people
on the service desks at Krombacher have been
partnered with certain markets for years, creating a
bond of trust and a deliverable promise of efficiency.
COURSE FOR HORSES
As to channel preferences, unsurprisingly on-trade
is preferred to off-trade, given the potential to more
thoroughly introduce Krombacher to consumers.
But on this point Braun is mostly all faiths, noting
that Krombacher has listings in both channels, if the
partner is correct, with thanks.
However, regarding Krombacher’s on-trade
presence, he does make a distinction: “If you have
more focus on visibility, then put in the bottle
because they are on the table; if it’s about quality,
then go for the draught.”
Packaging formats vary from market to market
more than one might expect. In China it is canned
beer that’s popular; in Brazil 500ml servings of the
Pils have proven to be the way forward, as well as
kegged beer despite the distance to market.
Krombacher continues to utilise metal kegs. It
As such, what Braun wants to achieve for
Krombacher is a pricing premium compared to its
counterparts, for example perhaps 10 to 20 pence
extra in British outlets per equivalent servings.
“What is it?” asks Braun. “It’s a signal that you
are sending out to the consumer that tells the
consumer something about the value of the brand.
And if it’s higher, the simple equation that the
consumer does in their mind is that it’s probably
Thirdly, Krombacher’s international sales team likes
to emphasise that they represent a family-owned
brewery, the case since its establishment in 1803
and from the 1920s under the leadership of the
Schadeberg family. (Bernhard Schadeberg is the
There’s value in this, as Braun explains. “Often I
have conversations where you immediately have
a completely different atmosphere where you say
you are family owned or managed. You have
something in common [with the buyer] and this
is why we use it.”
The fourth positioning point concerns the brand
portfolio. Not all markets want the Pils first. China
has been a success to date because of a thirst for
Krombacher’s Weizen and Dunkel.
Of increasing importance is the fifth point –
Krombacher is only brewed in Krombach, Germany,
not around the world. It is a ‘genuine’ import.
“Authenticity and originality are increasing values
for consumers, “points out Braun. “People want
to know where the things they pay money for and
which they are ready to invest in and enjoy, where
reviews potential use of one-way kegs but has
yet to be fully convinced of their merits and as yet
there’s no demand from their export partners for
use of such containers.
Krombacher is consistent on shelf life, with a year
on packaged products and nine months for draught.
On this Braun is firm, despite requests for longer
sell-by labelling, usually from their import partners.
“Some of our partners think they can more easily
access the on-trade if they come with a product
that has 15 months’ shelf life instead of 12 because
then they take a certain risk away from the buyer.
The buyer likes it and the likeliness of a listing is
“But at the end of the day I strongly believe if I have
a good product and have it available and I cannot
sell it within the first few months then I shouldn’t
be doing it at all.”
THAT LONG-TERM VIEW
We’ve listed the strategic markets, the targeted
six ‘A’ list countries where Krombacher is focusing
its energies. The actual landscape is far broader,
of course, with beers being exported to around 60
In some of these countries volumes are minimal
– 1,000, perhaps as few as 500 hectolitres – the
‘C’ markets. Braun and his team undertake regular
reviews of their A, B and C-ranked countries,
deciding whether the tail end should be retained or
if the effort required finally outweighs the reward.
The effort, it transpires, save for those pesky
labelling requirements, is fairly minimal. Braun
notes that the importers pay up front, this cash flow
consideration often outweighing the required effort
to service the market. If there has been a cull, it’s
been minimal to date.
So far what’s been presented here could indeed be
described as the model for an export strategy. That
is, at least one that doesn’t rely on the ‘pull’ of an
upfront marketing investment in the millions of the
currency of your country of choice.
The challenge for Krombacher is that it needs
customers to believe in the initial premise of
premium quality. This needs to be supported by
POS marketing and a potentially better margin
than that offered by the nearest comparable
brands. Finally, long-term listings can be sustained
by the quick decisions that are possible in the flat
organisational structure of a family business, along
with outstanding customer service.
So perhaps 500,000hl, two and a half times
Krombacher’s current export total, can be achieved
over the coming decade.
Some of you may have been wondering about the
lengthy time period for this strategy, an oddity in
this fast-paced world. It has to do with investment
planning at Krombacher’s brewery; in particular
which packaging equipment will be required to
support hoped-for increased exports.
This story will be revisited in due course but in
the meantime, if you hear in a year or two during
Brau Beviale of Krombacher placing an order for a
canning line – well, you’ll know that Braun and his
team are travelling along the right track.
A snapshot of Krombacher: the brewery at night, underneath the brewhouse, and a warm reception at the popular Vistor’s Centre
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