The tangible upturn of the Almdudler brand

04. Dec 2015

In an interview, Thomas Horak (International Sales Manager) explains the noticeable upswing of Almdudler in southern Germany. And he tells us why that success had nothing to do with an advertising campaign.

Thomas Horak

We doubled the sales of our Almdudler glass bottle.

Thomas Horak

For many German beer garden guests, the brand Almdudler is like an “old friend” who hasn’t come around much in recent years. That changed this year. The brand once again has a much more noticeable presence in the region of southern Germany. Why is that?

For one, we strengthened our sales team to generate more visibility in the market and get noticed more. For another, we re-aimed our focus. Away from the scattershot principle to a very sharply focused market approach.

And what does that focus look like, exactly?

We’re from Austria. The logical next step is southern Germany, in particular Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg And thanks to our beefed-up sales team, we can cover more ground in the urban areas like Munich, Nuremberg and Stuttgart rather than selectively supporting individual customers as we did before.

How did this clear compass develop?

That focus is the result of our brand positioning project with Spall.macht.Marke. The sales strategy I mentioned is just one important part of the brand strategy. It’s how we want to put the newly defined brand out on the street and make it more visible again.

Almdudler, the original that brings people together

How would you describe the new brand positioning of Almdudler?

In one sentence: Almdudler is the original that brings people together.. This sentence applies to all areas of our company. Also, our new brand values help us to better decide what fits our brand and what doesn’t. For example, our sales division mainly addresses the very gregarious types of restaurants, like beer gardens. In southern Germany, they are the best place to bring people together. The brand positioning gave us that focus.

What results are you seeing in the German market this first year after sharpening the Almdudler brand?

At the end of the first year, I can say that we are experiencing impressive growth in the German market. We are being noticed and perceived as a growing, credibly positioned brand. For example, our sales of the Original Almdudler glass bottle have doubled, despite a general downturn in the soft drinks market.
Internally as well, the new brand positioning has created considerable momentum. Everybody is pushing full steam ahead, because there is clarity and an inner certainty that we are doing the right thing.

The important thing is to have the courage to focus

What advice can you give other brands that are working in a saturated market and need a strong impulse?

The most important thing, to me, is to have the courage to focus. To find out what you stand for. You shouldn’t try to be everybody’s darling, but act with integrity and a strong brand personality, which is favoured in all the right places, but also excludes a few. That is why we decided to focus on day-time restaurants. We are a day-time brand. A brand for the whole family. We bring people together. So the day-time food and beverage sector is exactly the right place for us.

How do you get to the core that is going to shape the brand at all touchpoints? How does this work in practice?

First, we spent a lot of time listening to opinions and perceptions of the brand and collecting all sorts of different aspects. Every part of the company was involved. We surveyed business clients and end consumers to get a very broad image. That was one of the key factors that led to our success. We also deliberately cut off certain things that were only mentioned some of the time, so that we could focus on the interfaces that emerged. Then we defined those interfaces, honed them to a finer point and developed a joint understanding. And this joint understanding, for example of our main features and the values of our brand, made it easier for us to act with the brand in mind and initiate the crucial activities.

The good thing about the consulting was that there was no golden book

How did you perceive the role of the consultancy? Did the consultant walk in, put his golden book on the table and say: “This is it. Work with it.”?

The good thing about the consulting was that there was no golden book, but rather it was an open, joint process. Of course, this process had to be guided, and we needed someone to give us direction and point out new aspects. And the result to be expected at the end of the process was not pre-defined, but it is truly our result.

As Sales Director, you work with the customer every day. What tools were you given to use the new brand strategy in your daily work? How does it work when the consultant is no longer with you?

We get excellent support from our marketing department. First, there is a little booklet with our brand positioning and our jointly defined brand principles. I always keep it in the car with me for easy reference. Also, we designed a brand book for our international distribution partners that helps us bring them deeper into the world of Almdudler and explain to them how to work with the brand. This takes a great deal of openness because we share a lot of brand know-how. But it’s the only way to boost the success of our brand abroad.

What was the end of the cooperation like? Were you left with a fat file folder or a book with all the guiding principles?

Of course, there were a lot of comprehensive results. But the key was certainly that we broke them up into bite-sized pieces, so to speak, so that people who don’t work with brand strategies every day can use them, too. Our brand card fits in every wallet and explains on a few pages and in a few sentences what the brand Almdudler stands for. Even somebody who never had any contact with the brand understands immediately what makes us special.

We want to be part of the everyday lives of the German people

What can we expect from the brand Almdudler in Germany over the next year?

Last year was already quite a good year for us, but we haven’t reached our goal yet. We will definitely stick with the focus we have set for our company, and make the Almdudler brand even more readily available in Germany. We want to be part of the everyday lives of the German people. We want to become more visible. We want to focus even more on the restaurant sector. We want to bring together not just Austrians but Germans as well, and be part of their daily lives. Everyday life to us means being more available and being there wherever you’d expect Almdudler.

Do you think there is a realistic chance that someday Almdudler will be more than a holiday beverage in German minds but will become an everyday drink?

Definitely. Of course, Almdudler is strongly associated with the feeling of holidays in Austria. But that is precisely the positive brand experience we want to bring to homes, to Germany, so people can have fun with the brand there, too.

One last question, Mr. Horak. If you look five years into the future, what headline would you like to see about Almdudler in a leading journal of the beverage industry?

I’d like to read: “Almdudler is a major player in the German soft-drinks market, whose strength derives from the fact that they have stayed true to their core.” think this honesty and consistency are the keys to success. The market is constantly flooded with new brands and drinks. With our history, honesty and natural character, we have a good chance of reading just such a headline. We just have to stay true to our brand.

The interview with Thomas Horak was conducted by Christopher Spall.

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