Photo: Time Magazine
Photo: Time Magazine

The total value of the world’s top 50 most valuable beer brands has declined by 16%, from US$94.9 billion in 2020 to US$80.2 billion in 2021. Most brands in the Brand Finance Beers 50 2021 ranking have been negotiating the effects of social distancing measures brought about by the widespread global lockdowns over the last year, which severely diminished demand for beers and wider alcoholic drinks.

Richard Haigh, Managing Director, Brand Finance, commented:

“The pandemic has undoubtedly forced change upon the world’s beer brands, which have grappled with consumers’ significant lifestyle changes brought about by the limitations on social interaction. Brands with a strong existing reputation and good levels of familiarity amongst consumers are those most primed to weather the storm.”

Belgian beer brand, Michelob, bucks industry trends as the fastest growing brand, climbing 13 spots in the ranking following an impressive 39% brand value growth to US$1.2 billion. Over the last year, the brand has cemented its position as an innovative presence within the sector through its digital-based “Ultra Beer Run” campaign – an initiative that offers free beer as a reward for exercising.

Australian brand, XXXX (brand value US$743 million), and Spain’s Estrella Damm (brand value US$1.0 billion)are the second and third fastest growing brands, up 37% and 31% respectively.

Corona Extra is the best-selling Mexican beer in the world and the number one imported beer in the United States and Canada. Sold in a distinctive clear glass bottle with a printed-on label, the light “tropical pilsner” style beer, at 4.6% alcohol by volume, is often served in bars in export markets with a slice of lime pushed into the bottle’s neck. Although the lime slice has become synonymous with Corona and now makes up part of the brand’s image, very few Mexicans drink the beer this way, preferring to leave the lime to tourists and foreigners.


First brewed in 1925 by Grupo Modelo to celebrate the company’s 10th anniversary, the beer is light straw in color, light in taste, and has little hop bitterness. Although Corona leads the market in its home country, it is not considered the best of Grupo Modelo’s range of beers; others are more expensive in the Mexican market, and Corona was once considered a cheap beer in the United States. Unperturbed by the notion that beers sold in clear glass can become light struck because sunlight reacts with the hops, the brewer says the beer has always been marketed in a see-through bottle “because when you use only the finest ingredients, you’ve got nothing to hide.” Corona’s sales have benefitted from a remarkably effective advertising campaign that focuses on relaxation under palm trees on the white sands of Mexico’s beaches. Corona is sold in more than 150 countries.

The distinctive crown logo from which Corona takes its name is based on the crown that adorns the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the town of Puerto Vallarta.

Photo: Beer Finance Alcoholic Drinks 2021
Photo: Beer Finance Alcoholic Drinks 2021

Don Julio is strongest spirits brand

Don Julio (down 3% to US$933 million)is the world’s strongest spirits brand with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 88.8 out of 100 and a corresponding AAA brand strength rating.

The focus on keeping the authenticity of the brand and maintaining the same processes and quality since it was first created by Don Julio Gonzalez in 1942 remains of paramount importance. Don Julio launched its biggest marketing campaign to date at the end of last year, celebrating its founder and showcasing its commitment to supporting communities, and the restaurant sector.

Riding on the wave of increased popularity in tequila particularly in the US market – where volume consumption has grown exponentially over the past five years in particular – Don Julio has celebrated strong sales over the previous year. The strong performance of the brand helped to offset losses made in other areas of parent company Diageo’s portfolio.

Corona Beer vs coronavirus: effects on the company’s brand

In recent decades, there have been cases, albeit not many, of the names of natural disasters or diseases coinciding with the name of a product or brand, bringing into question the old adage that ‘any publicity is good publicity’. The most recent example of this is the coronavirus disease, which has naturally raised associations between it and Corona Beer. The question is what consequences, if any, this has had on Corona Beer sales, and what approach the company can take to protect its brand and trademarks from any potentially deleterious effects.

Prior to the World Health Organisation (WHO) issuing the Best Practices for the Naming of New Human Infectious Diseases in 2015, diseases were commonly named after their place of origin, e.g. the Spanish flu, MERS, Zika, and Ebola, or the species of animal from which the disease was thought to have originated, e.g. swine flu and bird flu.

The association of the coronavirus disease to the beer in the minds of the public is clearly evidenced by the growth in internet search numbers for ‘corona beer virus’, ‘beer virus’ and ‘beer coronavirus’, as revealed by Google Trends data. In addition, two surveys conducted in the US found that 38% of Americans would not buy Corona Beer under any circumstances and that consumers’ intent to purchase the product has fallen to its lowest in two years. It can, however, be argued that this association between the disease and the beer is specific to the English-speaking market because in Italian and Spanish, as in Latin, the term corona means ‘crown’ and would thereby be perceived by the public as a generic term which they would not automatically associate with Corona Beer.

Constellation Brands, the distributor of Corona Beer in the United States, has said that its customers understand that there is no link between the coronavirus disease and its product, and that sales of Corona Extra grew by 5% in the US in the four weeks ending on 16 February 2020, which was nearly double the trend of the previous 52 weeks. It also stated that these surveys do not reflect the company’s performance, and it referred to news of the negative impact of the coronavirus disease on the brand as misinformation.

Despite the company’s contentions, the effects of the pandemic on the brand may be far more nuanced than that. Take, for example, the steady stream of memes on social media which connect the disease to the beer, or the criticism of Corona’s slogan “coming ashore soon” in regard to its new hard seltzer as being in poor taste. There is also the possibility of competitors using the current states of affairs to their advantage by taking a dig at Corona Beer through the promotion of their own products. Until now, Corona’s competitors have mercifully abstained from such tactics, but nonetheless, the company’s buzz score, a metric that measures favourability, has dropped significantly since the beginning of 2020.

Victoria is strongest beer brand

In addition to measuring overall brand value, Brand Finance also determines the relative strength of brands through a balanced scorecard of metrics evaluating marketing investment, stakeholder equity, and business performance. Victoria (down 13% to US$4.0 billion) has jumped ten spots in the brand strength ranking to become the world’s strongest beer brand, with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 87.8 out of 100 and a corresponding AAA brand strength rating.

As one of the oldest beers produced in Mexico, Victoria has become a firm favourite in its home country, where it is the most traditional out of Grupo Modelo’s brand portfolio. Owned by AB InBev, the Mexican beer brand has undoubtedly benefited from parent company’s positive reputation and the strength of its wider brand portfolio.

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