In the world’s eighth-largest beer market, digital offers brands a means of bolstering their visibility. Yet even major brands have failed to invest in digital, according to L2’s Digital IQ Index: Beer UK. The best-selling brand in the country – Canadian import Carling – only ranks Average. Moreover, UK companies lag global rivals, with no domestic contenders joining the top five.

Top 10 beer brands1. Budweiser
Digital IQ: 146

Budweiser wins the top spot in L2’s study thanks to a comprehensive localization strategy. The brand has localized nearly all of its site and social properties in the UK, and is the only American Index brand with UK-specific social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The latter achieves particularly impressive visibility: for example, a video called “Bud and Burgers 2015” earned more than 1.1 million views. The brand also engages local consumers with its #DreamGoal campaign. Building on the country’s football obsession, the campaign invites amateur footballers to submit videos of their best goals, then films football stars analyzing the most popular entries.

2. Guinness
Digital IQ: 132

Guinness dominates both brand and category SEM, owning 26% of paid real estate by bidding on its own brand term as well as those of related competitors. The brand also boasts a sleek new site with a mobile-friendly design and an emphasis on video content. Auto-playing background videos prompt users to click through; they can also use the linked Guinness Storehouse microsite to reserve tickets for the storehouse tour and tasting experience in Dublin.

3. Stella Artois
Digital IQ: 125

With the UK’s digital grocery market expected to nearly double by 2020, retailer presence is becoming increasingly crucial. However, most Index brands have failed to get their products onto the e-commerce sites of the country’s largest grocers, Tesco and Asda. Stella Artois leads the pack on both retailers, with 14 SKUs on Asda and 19 on Tesco; meanwhile, the average brand hovers at 4.9.

4. Heineken
Digital IQ: 114

Heineken boasts the most-viewed YouTube channel in the Index, as well as the highest number of ad impressions. Thanks to sponsored Rugby World Cup content, the brand scores nearly 15 times the average impression count. Heineken continues that sports focus with best-in-class site technology featuring localised sweepstakes for the UEFA Champions League.

Desktop ad campaigns

5. Carlsberg
Digital IQ: 109

The Danish brand stood out on social media with its “If Carlsberg did…” campaign. Humorous videos about how the brand would do things better, such as turning a “chocolate bar” into a pub made entirely out of chocolate, garnered more than 380,000 views. The brand’s Premier League-themed web advertising also performed well, registering millions of impressions on just four creatives during the six-month study period. 

6. Coors Light
Digital IQ: 107

Coors Light is expanding its presence in the UK and backing up those efforts with local site and social media properties. The brand’s popular Super Refresh-Men mobile app is among the highest rated in the Index.

6. Tennent’s
Digital IQ: 107

Tennent’s exhibits the most robust email marketing strategy in the Index, sending subscribers event information with links to buy tickets. The brand also enjoyed success with its “Wellpark” campaign on Facebook, which earned thousands of interactions and views.

8. Carling
Digital IQ: 99

The UK’s best-selling brand focuses marketing efforts on online promotions and giveaways. Contests feature prominently on the brand site, with prizes ranging from football shirts to tropical getaways. In 2015, Carling teamed up with Expedia to introduce “Brighton or Barbados,” offering consumers the chance to book a £49 getaway to either Brighton or Barbados; they only found out where they were going after completing the booking.

Carling's contests

9. Strongbow
Digital IQ: 92

The cider brand maximizes its share of organic and paid real estate on Google for relevant terms. It also performs better than most Index brands with regards to etailer visibility, boasting multiple first-page SKUs on Tesco, Asda, and Booze Up.

10. Pilsner Urquell
Digital IQ: 90

Pilsner Urquell’s strong mobile site features highlights such as store locator integration and keyword search navigation. While lacking zero first-page visibility on major retailers, the brand earns organic visibility on Google for “pilsner” terms.

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