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Cans of Cambodia beer are set up for customers at a local restaurant in Phnom Penh.
Cans of Cambodia beer are set up for customers at a local restaurant in Phnom Penh. Eli Lillis

Beer tops advertising budgets

Beer advertising is one of the fastest growing advertising segments in the Kingdom, though just as people often struggle to keep track of how many beers they have put away, the amount that local breweries and distributors actually spend on media placements is subject to widely varying estimates.

According to Indochina Research, the advertising budget of Cambodian beer companies saw double-digit growth last year. The regional market research firm estimates that spending on beer television and print advertisements grew by 19 percent last year to top $3.3 million.

Xavier Depouilly, general manager for Vietnam and Cambodian market research operations at Indochina Research, said that while the figure does not include advertising for concerts and sporting events – which admittedly accounts for the lion’s share of beer promotional activities – it provides a rough idea of just how much the beer companies are sinking into advertising their respective brews.

“Apart from the overall value, the spending report gives an objective idea on the branding efforts done by each brand in the media,” he said.

According to Depouilly, the most advertised brand in 2016 in terms of commercial spots was Ganzberg at 57,117, representing 28 percent share of television advertising, followed by Cambodia beer with 34,947 spots, and Angkor at 26,448.

Cambodia has three major breweries, including Cambrew, which produces Angkor, Bayon, Black Panther and Klang beers, and Khmer Beverages, the producer of Cambodia beer. The third, Cambodia Brewery Ltd (CBL), produces Tiger, ABC, Anchor and Crown, and earlier this month opened a new $100 million manufacturing plant to expand production and brew Heineken under licence.

According to Heineken’s own data, Cambodians imbibe about 6.1 million hectolitres of beer per year, or 38.6 litres per person. This places Cambodians among the top beer-drinkers in the region – though still well below the level of per capita consumption seen in Europe.

Chhe Lim Sreng, a marketing manager for one of Cambodia’s largest television stations, said beer has the largest advertising budget of any consumer product in the Kingdom, followed by telecom companies and then other non-alcoholic beverages.

“In terms of the beer market, if there is no advertisement, companies will not be able to sell their products,” he said, adding that breweries have stepped up spending as the market becomes more competitive.

“The more companies spend on advertising budgets reflects that they are having more sales,” he added.

Sreng said Indochina Research’s estimated $3.3 million print and television advertising budget seemed low. While he did not offer an alternative figure, he said if all advertising platforms including concerts and sports promotion were included, the budget would likely be closer to $20 million a year.

Im Sothearith, director of communications of Khmer Beverages Ltd, said the company alone spends nearly $10 million a year, with not all of it going into traditional advertising channels.

“For just our corporate social responsibility budget, we spend nearly $1 million a year,” he said, adding that he believed Indochina Research’s figure was widely conservative.

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