Despite coronavirus confusion, Corona continues hard seltzer marketing push

Corona's advertising for its new hard seltzer drew backlash on Twitter

Corona beer will continue promoting its hard seltzer product amid the deadly coronavirus outbreak despite the negative buzz.

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Constellation Brands, the parent company of Corona Extra, Modelo, Especial and Svedka, will continue its marketing push after facing backlash last week for advertising its new Corona Hard Seltzer with a Twitter post announcing the flavors were “coming ashore soon,” leaving a bad taste with some critics who said the advertising was “bad timing," CNBC reported.

Corona faced backlash for its hard seltzer campaign amid the coronavirus outbreak. (Corona). 

The post on Twitter featured four cans of the new hard seltzer on a beach with the words “coming ashore soon.”

“Our advertising with Corona is consistent with the campaign we have been running for the last 30 years and is based off strong consumer sentiment,” a spokeswoman told CNBC in an email, adding: “We empathize with those who have been impacted by the virus and continue to monitor the situation, our consumers, by and large, understand there’s no linkage between the virus and our business.”

"After all, what brand wants to be linked to a virus which is killing people worldwide?"

- Ronn Torossian, founder and chief executive officer at 5WPR

A spokesperson for Constellation did not immediately return a FOX Business request for comment.

Consumers seem to be associating the deadly coronavirus outbreak with the unrelated beer brand. Online searchers for the Mexican beer surged on Google during the week of Jan. 29 with the phrase “corona beer virus” and “beer virus,” according to data from Google Trends. What’s more, international polling and market research company YouGov put out research last week revealing purchasing intent for Corona “is at the lowest it’s been in two years, though the summer-y beverage which is closely associated with beach holidays does see substantial seasonal fluctuation.”

CORONAVIRUS CAUSES SPIKE IN ‘CORONA BEER VIRUS’ GOOGLE SEARCHES

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
STZCONSTELLATION BRANDS INC.172.70-2.74-1.56%
BUDANHEUSER-BUSCH INBEV46.88-0.60-1.26%

It seems that fewer consumers are buying Corona beer as a result. A survey from the 5W Public Relations firm of nearly 740 American beer drinkers over age 21 found that 38 percent said they would not buy Corona now, and 16 percent of beer-drinking Americans said they were confused about whether Corona beer is related to the coronavirus.

“While the brand has claimed that consumers understand there's no linkage between the virus and the beer company, this is a disaster for the Corona brand," Ronn Torossian, founder and chief executive officer at 5WPR, said in a statement. "After all, what brand wants to be linked to a virus which is killing people worldwide?"

ANHEUSER-BUSCH BANKS ON HARD SELTZER AS BEER DRINKING DECLINES

Corona faces competition in the hard seltzer category from a number of beverage competitors in the $1.5 billion seltzer category. The number of hard seltzer brands has nearly doubled in the past year, with around 22 major brands in the market in 2018 and more than 40 today. Mark Anthony Brands-owned White Claw is the No. 1 hard seltzer brand on the market, accounting for 59 percent of the segment, followed by Boston Beer Company’s Truly Hard Seltzer, according to Nielsen.

And last month, Anheuser-Busch InBev rolled out Bud Light Seltzer nationally, investing more than $100 million in the category. It’s the company’s third spiked seltzer in its portfolio, joining Bon & Viv, marketed toward millennial women as a healthier alternative to beer, and Natural Light Seltzer.

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