Asahi Beer Enters the Russian Market


Professors Sergei Starov and Igor Gladkikh, Graduate School of Management, St Petersburg State University talk about their case, Asahi Beer Enters the Russian Market, co-authored with Professor Ken Matsuno, Babson College.

 beerIn 2008 Baltika Breweries, the leader in the Russian beer market, and Asahi Breweries, Ltd. from Japan, signed a licensing agreement for the production and sales of the Asahi Super Dry beer in Russia. The case allows students to explore the opportunities and challenges for Baltika, how the brand should be positioned in the Russian market, what the brand identity should be based on, and the effect of the country of origin factor in promoting the brand.

Motivation behind the case

There are a number of 'eternal' core issues in international marketing which are not always considered mandatory for discussion in class, such as standardisation-adaptation, international marketing strategy during penetration into new foreign markets and issues surrounding the country of origin effect for products in international marketing. We saw a great need for cases focused on these issues and had been looking for a business situation that would allow us write such a case.

Asahi beer

The beer market in Russia fitted what we were looking for as it was saturated and had a great number of brands from different countries. When we realised that Baltika Breweries had started selling the Japanese beer Asahi Super Dry in Russia we took an interest in the venture. Japanese beers were still a novelty in Russia and Russian customers had never considered Japan to be a country producing good beer. We thought that this situation would be the perfect basis of a really interesting and useful case that would explore all the issues
we had identified.

Getting inside Baltika

Some of the senior managers at Baltika Breweries are alumni of the GSOM Executive MBA programme so making the first contact was fairly easy. Baltika Breweries were very supportive and gave us the opportunity to conduct interviews and research in the company. They also introduced us to contacts at the Asahi Breweries headquarters in Japan and we were able to conduct interviews via email with the key staff there.

Asahi AdUsing the case

We consider this case to be a comprehensive global marketing case that is appropriate for advanced level undergraduate students in an international marketing elective, or for MBA students as part of the core curriculum or an elective. The case addresses global marketing issues such as market definition, segmentation, targeting and brand positioning; marketing performance goal setting; and the country of origin effect on a product in international marketing. The first version of the case was mainly aimed at the issue of brand positioning, however when we taught the case students wanted to discuss a wider range of issues so we revised the material to provide more of these opportunities.

The case writing partnership

We had already written a draft of the case before Babson’s Ken Matsuno became involved. We worked with Ken to complete the case and the teaching note together and the case was tested at GSOM and Babson.

The partnership brought many benefits to the case writing process. Leveraging the networks of both schools gave access to much more information that would have been possible otherwise. This helped provide a rich analysis of the Russian, US and Japanese markets. Ken was also able to work with original sources in Japanese which was a great advantage. The different cultural perspectives of the team ensured that the case would be understandable to international students from a range of backgrounds. 

We found that whilst there is need to go through all phases of writing the case together, that it is necessary to define the concept of the case, its plot, structure and content of questions or areas of discussion jointly. Writing the case in this partnership was a positive experience and one we would recommend to colleagues.

Case detail

Asahi Beer Enters the Russian Market
Sergei Starov and Igor Gladkikh, Graduate School of Management, St Petersburg State University
Ken Matsuno, Babson College
Ref 088-C10
Teaching note

Ref 088-T10

About the contributors

Sergei Starov is Associate Professor at Graduate School of Management, St Petersburg State University, Russia. e

Igor Gladkikh is Associate Professor at Graduate School of Management, St Petersburg State University, Russia. e

Ken Matsuno is Associate Professor at Babson College, US. e

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