Corona Beer: Ambiguous Brand Association during the Coronavirus Pandemic
(5 pages of text)
Case (Pub Mat)
In early 2020, during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Google Trends data revealed a surge in the use of the search terms “Corona beer virus” and “beer virus” by users of the Google search engine. A survey conducted around that time also seemed to suggest that consumers were less likely to buy Corona beer, which led various major media outlets to misrepresent the accuracy of the findings regarding consumer beliefs about the association between Corona beer and coronavirus. However, the chief executive officer of Constellation Brands Inc., the Corona brand’s distributor, was confident about the brand’s performance and did not change the company’s plans for a US spring 2020 launch of Corona hard seltzer. Consumers criticized both the poor timing of the planned launch, during the coronavirus pandemic, and various promotions for Corona beer that were considered inappropriate. Constellation Brands Inc. had to consider the effect, if any, on Corona beer sales in the United States. Should the launch of Corona hard seltzer go on as planned during the coronavirus pandemic? How should the company respond to misleading survey reports by some media outlets? Should bar owners in the United States be cautioned against launching promotional campaigns that link the Corona beer brand with the coronavirus?
This case is intended for undergraduate- and graduate-level courses on strategic marketing, brand management, or marketing management. The case deals with challenges faced by an organization when its brand name is associated with an unpleasant event. The case also highlights issues associated with the timing of a new product launch and how a company can manage inaccurate media coverage. After working through the case and assignment questions, students will be able to
- critically analyze the impact that negative name association can have on a brand;
- evaluate the wisdom of launching a new product during a pandemic;
- determine what strategies a company can apply to tackle inaccurate media coverage; and
- evaluate what steps a company can take to control a brand’s promotional strategies by its channel partners.
United States, Large, 2020
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