European drinkers flock to Staropramen’s fast-growing Praha

Praha, a Pilsner from Staropramen that brings together lower alcohol, light taste and bold flavor, has expanded into Romania, continuing its rapid expansion across Europe after launching just over a year ago.

Praha has proved popular among drinkers in Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary and Serbia because of its combination of bold flavor and light taste, says Boris Jaranovic, senior manager for premium brands in Central and Eastern Europe.

“Younger consumers want to try new, progressive types of beer that are smooth in taste but also bold in flavor and image. That’s why Praha achieved such success in a short amount of time,” Jaranovic says. “The quality and craftsmanship mean a lot.”

The brand's momentum led to the decision to expand into Romania, one of the region’s biggest markets and its sixth in Central and Eastern Europe. 

With the expansion, the brand expects to double its volume.

The opportunity to introduce a premium, 4% alcohol-by-volume Pilsner with a strong Czech pedigree like Praha’s is illustrative of Molson Coors Beverage Company’s strategy of growing its above-premium portfolio.

Along with Praha, the company has found resounding success with Madri Excepcional in Ireland and the U.K., leading an expansion into the off-trade. It also recently launched Zagrebacka pivovara’s Ožujsko Legendarno, a three-malt lager, in Croatia. And earlier this spring, Molson Coors unveiled Staropramen’s biggest ad campaign ever in the U.K. and Ireland.

Praha has found fertile ground in the U.K., as well, where it’s been sold as Pravha since 2016.

“Its appeal has been as a premium brand for consumers who want a lighter beer that doesn’t compromise on bold flavor,” says Jo McCarthy, senior brand manager for Staropramen and Pravha in the U.K.

Available exclusively in the on-premise, Pravha rebounded from a COVID-struck 2020, finishing 2021 up 58%, according to internal data, making it the U.K.’s No. 15 draft beer. It is expected to continue growing in 2022, with pubs, taverns and restaurants fully open.

Pravha has carved a successful path in what Molson Coors estimates to be the $1.5 billion-and-growing modern world lager segment, which includes beers like San Miguel, Madri Excepcional, Camden Hells and its closest competitor, Amstel.

Despite being sold only in the on-trade, Pravha ranks as the No. 4 beer in the segment and has a rate of sale better than some of its well-established competitors. 

“Even though we’re smaller than the competition, our performance is better,” McCarthy says, pointing to a rate of sale that bests Amstel’s by 37%. 

The brand has found success positioned as a beer that embraces sophistication and experiences. It has sponsored a meal series called London in the Sky, where diners are elevated 100 meters in the air, and developed edible bubbles that taste like Pravha.

This summer, it will be a named sponsor of the popular Bestival Festival in Dorset. Meanwhile, the brand is being backed by its largest media investment ever, with a creative campaign aimed at bridging the awareness gap.

“There’s this juxtaposition between bold flavor and light taste, and that’s looped through how Pravha is marketed,” McCarthy says. “It’s all about championing that taste and delivering unexpected experiences.”