Brewing better business

CAMDEN, N.J. – While most college students encounter beer from the business end of a bottle, Barbara Bickart’s M.B.A. class has been taking a look at the business of getting new beer into a buyer’s hand.

Specifically, the students conducted a target-market study for Windhoek Lager, a beer made in Namibia. Rutgers has been involved in projects in the southern African nation for the last decade.

Before a group of invited guests, including two beer distributors, five students in the master’s of business administration program presented their findings in the Octagon Room at the school’s student center.

With Renee DiCiano of Washington Township, Gloucester County, leading off, the students told how they had surveyed 119 Philadelphia-area people who had drunk imported beer in the last year and asked them about their beer-consumption habits and their attitudes about imported brews, among other things.

They learned that – at least in their mostly under-30 survey group – Corona from Mexico and Heineken from the Netherlands were the favorite imports, and that Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands had the best brewing reputations.More than two-thirds said they drank imported beer mainly for the taste. They said most imported beers were consumed in bars and at parties.

The students conducted the survey without sampling Windhoek until they took a test taste when their work had ended.

“I liked it,” said DiCiano, who described herself as a Corona drinker.

Jeffrey Hirschoff of Albany, N.Y., who said he was not a big beer drinker, compared it to Yuengling, which is brewed in Pottsville, Pa.

John Lestaris, a student from Greece who is used to quaffing German-style brews, disagreed.

Dominic A. Origlio, president of Antonio Origlio Inc. of Philadelphia, and Charles W. Kramer, president of Kramer Beverage Co. of Egg Harbor, Atlantic County, said the students’ findings about Corona and Heineken were supported in the market.But they were disappointed that the students were not able to conduct taste tests of Windhoek in the marketplace.

Kramer said imported beers accounted for about 10 percent of the sales in the Philadelphia-South Jersey market, a figure slightly above the national average but far behind the 30 percent share in the New York-North Jersey market.

Origlio said that dozens of imported beers entered the market every month but that their monthly sales “don’t equal one day of Heineken.”