A G Barr plc — a case study
A G Barr plc manufactures, distributes and markets drinks, primarily carbonated soft drinks. Based in Glasgow, it has been manufacturing soft drinks in Scotland since 1875. Its most famous product, Irn-Bru, was first produced in 1901. Barr’s became a public limited company in 1965. The business has always been associated with the Barr family and members of it own the majority of shares in the company. However, Robin Barr, the chairman, is the only member of the Barr family still directly employed in the business. Barr’s has a deliberate policy of focusing on the drinks market. It does not produce any other type of ...view middle of the document...
It means that companies must have funds available to spend on marketing their products. At the same time, they have to be able to produce in sufficient quantities to gain economies of scale in production.
Traditionally, Barr’s strength is in Scotland where Irn-Bru is the leading grocery brand name. The company has a long-standing aim to increase sales south of the border. Sales there have been rising but they remain small compared to sales in Scotland. Nonetheless, Irn-Bru is now one of the top 100 grocery brands in the UK. It is the third biggest soft drink in the UK and the top non-cola brand. In most developed countries Coca-Cola is comfortably the market leader but, in Scotland, this is not the case. In 2003, sales of Irn-Bru in Scotland exceeded those of Coke.
Although brand names such as Coke, Pepsi and Sprite are known all over the world, the actual drinks are often produced and distributed by locally based companies. In some cases, these companies are subsidiaries of the big multinationals. In other cases, separate companies, like Barr’s, produce and market the drinks under licence from the brand owner. These partnership arrangements, known as franchise agreements, normally last for a specified period of time such as five years. Barr’s has the UK franchise for Orangina and for Lipton Ice Tea.
These operations do not always run smoothly. Barr’s originally agreed a deal for Orangina with the French company, Pernod Ricard, for the period 1995–2001. In late 1999, the French government vetoed a proposed take-over by Coca-Cola of Pernod Ricard. A year later, rumours that the brand was to be sold to Cadbury Schweppes, another soft drinks manufacturer, did not materialise. These events caused considerable uncertainty for Barr’s. However, in the event, Pernod Ricard retained ownership of the brand and Barr’s was able to extend its franchise deal.
Appendix 2 summarises the main brands that Barr’s owns and manages.
Building brand awareness
Barr’s has a policy of developing its own brand identities. It has chosen this in preference to producing supermarket own label products which are low profit lines.
Barr’s uses a range of promotional activities but makes considerable use of advertising. It sees this as a vital part in maintaining an up-to-date image for its products, particularly as carbonated soft drinks are mostly bought by young people. Barr’s is proud of its reputation for using innovative tactics alongside tried and tested methods.
Irn-Bru is an example of how Barr’s has tried to build brand share and brand loyalty. A new design for it was launched in 1993 which increased the amount of blue on cans and bottles to contrast with the orange. Orange has been a key colour in recent advertising for Irn-Bru, which has followed an edgy humorous theme. The TV advert featuring ‘Jef’ won the ‘Best Commercial’ award at the 2002 Scottish Advertising Awards following the success...