S'pore has 'strategic role' to play for ThaiBev

The five variants of Chang will now be consolidated into one product named Chang Classic (above), with a new liquid profile and packaging.
The five variants of Chang will now be consolidated into one product named Chang Classic (above), with a new liquid profile and packaging.PHOTO: THAIBEV

Singapore will remain a key market for Thai Beverage's beer business, but the company is realistic about what it can achieve.

While ThaiBev is keen to boost its beer sales here, Singapore is more than just a marketplace, ThaiBev chief executive Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi said. It has a strategic role, he noted.

"Compared with the rest of the region, Singapore is not necessarily a growth market. But Singapore is more of an image market where brands can be projected. It is one of the major cities in Asean, and a very strategic image market," he said.

ThaiBev - one of the Straits Times Index component stocks - currently has just around 1 per cent of the beer market share in Singapore.

"The beer market (in Singapore) is quite fragmented, and even the leading brand has less than half the market. There is no dominant market leader, with the top five or six brands taking up 90 per cent of the market," he said.

Mr Thapana made these observations at a press conference last Saturday in Bangkok, where ThaiBev announced the rebranding of its mass-market flagship beer Chang.

The five variants of Chang will now be consolidated into one single product named Chang Classic, with a new liquid profile and more contemporary packaging.

ThaiBev is hoping that the more-focused and updated product image will further boost Chang's already dominant market share in Thailand, to 45 per cent from 30 per cent currently.

Aside from Thailand, Chang Classic is also looking to build further presence in the other major beer markets in the region, including the Philippines, Vietnam, as well as Cambodia and Myanmar.

ThaiBev will tap Fraser and Neave (F&N)'s distribution network in Singapore to market Chang Classic by the end of this year.

F&N was taken over in 2013 by majority shareholder Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, founder of ThaiBev and father of Mr Thapana. ThaiBev and F&N have a combined beverage market share of 14 per cent by value in South-east Asia.

ThaiBev and F&N are now offering a more extensive range of products that can better tap the beverage markets across the region, Mr Thapana noted.

In Indonesia, for instance, ThaiBev hopes to crack the lucrative black tea segment with F&N's Seasons products. This year, a major marketing campaign was launched by ThaiBev subsidiary, Thai Drinks, to bring F&N's 100Plus energy drink into Thailand.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2015, with the headline 'S'pore has 'strategic role' to play for ThaiBev'. Print Edition | Subscribe