Hanoi beer loses in home market despite brief fame from Obama dinner

Jun 05, 2017 | 12:04 PM GMT+7

Bia Hanoi, or Hanoi beer, a long lasting beer brand well known to Hanoians, which was served at former US President Obama’s dinner during his visit to Vietnam in 2016, cannot hold the upper hand over its rivals.

Hanoi beer loses in home market despite brief fame from Obama dinner
Hanoi beer drops market share. Photo: Internet

Hanoians favor Hanoi beer, Sai Gon beer and Heineken. There are no official statistics about the consumption of beer products, but analysts are sure the three brands dominate the Hanoi market.

Hanoi Beer Alcohol and Beverage Corp (Habeco) has the Hanoi Beer brand and is located in Hanoi.

Analysts said that the images of Obama drinking Hanoi beer, which appeared in all local newspapers and international mass media, would help Habeco prosper.

But Hanoi Beer has lost a large part of the market to its rivals.

After Obama had dinner at Huong Lien bun cha Shop and drank Bia Ha Noi on May 23, the first day of his visit to Vietnam, both brands appeared many times on mass media. Bia Ha Noi was even mentioned in Obama’s speech the next morning.

However, while Huong Lien bun cha Shop’s business has been thriving since then, Bia Ha Noi is less lucky.

Many grocery stores and street shops in Hanoi say that youth now prefer Saigon Special of Sabeco, a brewery headquartered in HCMC. The main customers of Hanoi Beer are aged 50 and more.

“Hanoi beer now is just for older people,” said Do Hoang Yen, the owner of a grocery store on Khuong Trung street.

The owner of H.B Shop on Truong Dinh street said five to six years ago, Hanoi beer once dominated the Hanoi market and there was no rival in the bottled beer market.

“The sales of Sabeco’s products are far higher than Habeco’s,” he said. “We can sell only one Habeco product for every two Sabeco products sold.”

At large supermarkets, people have begun buying beer in large quantities as the summer has come in Hanoi. And Sabeco’s products are favored.

Xuan Truong, from Bac Tu Liem district, said he prefers Saigon Beer because it is tastier with a strong flavor, while Hanoi Beer tastes flat.

However, a branding expert said that tastes are always different. He believes that the problem lies in the marketing strategy.

While Sabeco offers a wide range of products with different price levels, targeting different groups of customers, Hanoi Beer has stayed the same for many years and cannot attract young people.