Gisela Rule, CMO of Grolsch

Recently I had a chance to chat with Gisela Rule, the new Marketing Director of Grolsch, who joined the Grolsch Brewery in February 2013. Prior to Grolsch she led the SABMiller innovation team as Group Innovation Director where her task was identifying global trends, and transforming them into opportunities for local markets.

We talk about her vision for Grolsch, challenges related to today’s super-saturated media environment and brand consistency.

Gisela says: “At Grolsch we always say: discover everything and keep the good (ontdek alles en behoud het goede). Grolsch Beer is a well-known brand with loyal following and a strong brand character. We don’t want to change the perception of Grolsch, for 400 years it has been considered a quality beer with character, and we want to keep it this way.

This approach is emphasized in a recent TV commercial called “’400 jaar karakter’ or ‘400 years of character’. The advertising is based on the 19th century story about the ice-masters of Groenlo (local name Grol, where the Grolsch Brewery was founded in 1615) who cut large ice blocks from the canals and sawed them to keep their beer cold (obviously there were no freezers in those days).

Actions like cutting up the ice in canals are against the common sense of every Dutch person, why would you destroy the ice in a canal? Ice is for skating! Keep in mind that, when there is ice on canals, skating is the national sport of the Dutch.

The meaning of this ad is clear to the Dutch customers: in order to maintain the quality, sometimes you need to go against the flow, be independent and trust yourself.

Through the years, Grolsch cultivated an image of being perfectionist and showed its admiration for craftsmanship and people who practice a craft with great skill. Quality always comes first; there is no place for compromise. For many years, Grolsch had famous campaigns with the slogan “Vakmanschap is Meesterschap”, literally translated meaning “Craftsmanship is Mastership”.

This brilliant Grolsch positioning has been always a part of the Grolsch identity, what changed are the channels of communication with customers; there are more touch points than a few years ago. The challenge is to keep brand experience consistent no matter where customers meet us, online of offline, says Gisela. Grolsch has a strong presence on all important social media platforms and we will be on the next new thing in social media if our customers choose to be there, continues Gisela Rule.

I asked Gisela how difficult it is to keep a cohesive message across all the channels with so many touch points, after all it’s not just media, but also packaging, bottles, shelf presentation, and beer presentation in  restaurants, bars or cafes.

Consistency is the key, says Gisela. The more consistent the customer experience is across the brand touch points and over time, the more customers trust the brand. Quite simply, clients want to know what to expect and they also like to know what to look forward to. In case of Grolsch, our customers expect a quality beer with a character.

But as much as consistency is important, we are aware of the importance of fresh consistency, says Gisela. The challenge is to give customers the feeling of knowing the brand but still deliver something new, something unexpected.

We need to keep the Grolsch brand fresh. So our focus is on fresh consistency, says Gisela ending up our chat.

Author: Bea Stanford

Bea Stanford is the founder of the Best Dutch Brands website.

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