Bad economy not slowing Cheerwine sales

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Staff report
Cheerwine has increased its unit sales by 30 percent since the beginning of the year, according to The Nielsen Co.
Salisbury-based Cheerwine also reported this week that unit sales were up 42 percent during the last four-week period of the report (ending May 16).
Cheerwine says the overall carbonated-soft-drink category is down 3.5 percent in unit sales, and top competitors such as Coca-Cola, Dr Pepper and Pepsi are experiencing a decline in consumption.
“2009 is proving to be a breakout year,” Tom Barbitta, vice president of marketing for Cheerwine, said in a press release.
The Nielsen Co. report said Cheerwine is up 24 percent in dollars and 30 percent in units for the year so far.
Meanwhile, volume for Coca-Cola Classic was down 8.8 percent for the year; Dr Pepper, down 1.8 percent; and Pepsi, down 9.1 percent.
Cheerwine said Information Resources Inc. shows that the sale of Cheerwine cases in April was up 20 percent. Sales were up significantly in Knoxville, Tenn., where Cheerwine’s “Chilled Out Tour” was present at the Sundown in the City concert series in April.
Barbitta credits the first phase of a new marketing campaign, which includes new packaging, with improving Cheerwine sales. Several more “roll-outs” are coming this year, he said.
“Cheerwine is successful as a brand because we know how to evolve to effectively reach our target audience while staying true to the loyal consumers who have made the soft drink what is it today,” Barbitta said.
During April, Cheerwine’s marketing agency, Hauser Group of Atlanta, kicked off a variety of efforts for Cheerwine:
– It launched a new Web site ó ó with new games, videos and more.
– It began new digital, radio and television advertisements.
– It has the consumer launch events in Knoxville and contacted various media outlets about the new campaign.
Hauser Group reports that more than 250,000 people viewed Cheerwine videos from its Web site on On-line banner ads were performing five times better than the category average, the agency added.