"One of the largest demographics in the U.S is that second- or third-generation millennial Hispanic, and that group is getting more in touch with their roots," said Inda Meza. "They're interested and want to connect with the things of their parents and grandparents."
While imports from Mexico have been one of the the hottest trends in the beer business over the past few years — with dollar sales of Mexican Imports up 16 percent in 2015 alone, according to Chicago-based market research firm IRI — Anheuser-Busch InBev has been on the outside looking in.
As part of its deal in 2013 to acquire the 50 percent of Grupo Modelo it did not already own, it was forced to divest its U.S. rights to the Corona, Modelo Especial and eight other Mexican brands. Constellation took full ownership of those rights and hasn't looked back, increasing the portfolio's marketing spending and watching sales surge.
Modelo Especial has been a quiet contender in the beer business, continuing its recent growth trend with a volume sales increase of 24 percent in 2015, according to IRI. It's growth has led Constellation officials to refer to it as "the next Corona," while Corona itself, already the most imported beer in the U.S., posted its own double-digit volume sales gain of 12 percent in 2015.
Beer drinkers will be hearing a lot more about Modelo in 2016 as Constellation plans an increase in media spending centered around an ad campaign touting it as "the fastest growing beer in America."
Meanwhile, the Heineken-owned Dos Equis brand is also raising the stakes, recently retiring actor Jonathan Goldsmith from his iconic role as "The Most Interesting Man In the World."
Dos Equis is expected to update the "Most Interesting Man" campaign and will increase spending on the brand as it becomes the official sponsor of the college football playoff this fall.
Anheuser-Busch officials know they are entering a crowded and competitive market place, and Estrella Jalisco will not be the first time the company has tried to appeal to first- and second-generation Mexican-Americans by importing an established Mexican brand.
The company began limited distribution of Montejo, another beer from the Grupo Modelo portfolio, in 2014. Montejo was similarly positioned as "authentically Mexican," but the brand's largely regional status within Mexico limited its ability to catch on here in the U.S.
While Anheuser-Busch is not setting specific expectations for the Estrella Jalisco brand, they don't hide their conviction that a brand more widely known in Mexico, backed by a direct appeal built on Mexican pride and authenticity, will have a powerful effect.
"There are a number of players in the space, but there is no other proposition that truly celebrates the heritage and iconography of Mexico," said Inda Meza. "We think it's going to be one of the success stories across any category for this year."
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