From Corona beer to Mars bars: How external events can make or break products


One of the unintended but hilarious fall outs of the coronavirus is the fact the beer that shares the same name has also been hit hard.

One of the most popular beers has seen a massive drop in sales. Not even being Vin Diesel’s drink of choice in The Fast and Furious Franchise or tasting like ‘tapwater mixed with weak tea and urine’, ever hit the brand quite like a global epidemic which has nothing to do with the virus.

The world’s biggest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev SA said it lost $170 million in profits in 2020 because of the coronavirus epidemic. The company houses the beers Budweiser, Stella and Corona.

According to a report by Bloomberg, Corona Beer has become the subject of memes and videos shared on social media as the toll from the virus climbs worldwide.According to a report by Bloomberg, Corona Beer has become the subject of memes and videos shared on social media as the toll from the virus climbs worldwide.

Reports of an increase in online searches for “corona beer virus” and “beer coronavirus” show the Mexican beer hasn’t been able to escape the association, the report said.

The so-called purchase intent among adults in the US has plunged to the lowest in two years, according to data from YouGov Plc, as stated by the Bloomberg report.

“The damage has become more severe in recent days as infections spread. Shares of Corona-maker Constellation Brands Inc. dived 8 per cent this week in New York,” the Bloomberg report said.

“Corona’s buzz score — which tracks whether American adults aware of the brand have heard positive or negative things about it — has tumbled to 51 from a high of 75 at the beginning of the year,” YouGov said.

As per the report, Corona, which derives its name from the Sun’s corona and has nothing to do with the virus, is the third-most popular beer in the US, according to YouGov rankings. Guinness is first and Heineken is second.

While it’s bad news for the company, there are certain triggers which can cause a product to have positive or negative association. While one would assume that going viral is a spontaneous activity, Jonah Berger, author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, had argued that there are essentially six different key steps to craft contagious content.

He had called the six things STEPPS – Social Currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and Stories.

Among them, it’s the trigger category which can explain why people are so afraid of the beer right now.

A perfect example of a positive trigger is when NASA landed the Mars Rover on the Red Planet.

Berger writes: “NASA was, of course, ecstatic. But at the same time, another organisation enjoyed some unexpected success: global confectioner, Mars. Over the same period that Mars the planet was in the news, Mars the chocolate bar saw a (perhaps surprising) uptick in sales.

While Mars the company is named after the company’s founder, Franklin Mars, not the planet, media attention on Nasa’s Mars landing pushed the chocolate bar front of mind. It was like a little reminder to make people think about, talk about, and purchase the product. Top-of-mind means tip-of-the-tongue.”

But as we learnt with Corona beer, top-of-mind and tip-of-tongue might not always be the best thing.

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