A Holistic Marketing Success Story: Heineken

A guest post by Megan Totka

It’s been three years since Heineken partnered with Cisco to overcome marketing challenges. Cisco helped change Heineken’s marketing strategy to a more holistic approach and expanded the equity in the brand name. This move has continued to bring success to Heineken and proves to be a successful example of holistic marketing in the business world.


Heineken is well known for its beer brand. The Dutch company has been in business nearly 150 years so it was doing something right before making the change but it wanted to go to the next level. Heineken wanted to grow the company beyond the image of beer being associated with social partying. With advertising restrictions being placed on beer companies requiring an image of social responsibility to be portrayed, Heineken was limited in the marketing style it could use. So instead of only providing alcoholic beverages, Cisco and Heineken created an interactive technology filled store they named “Heineken the City.”

Heineken has been imported to the United States but it is most widely known in the Netherlands where it originated. At the time of its marketing struggle, Europe was facing a beer crisis. Many areas were under scrutiny for excessive drinking. In combination with a smoking ban, beer consumption began decreasing. This hurt Heineken.

Brand Repositioning

To repair its image, sales and brand name, a holistic marketing approach was implemented. Heineken took the lead from other successful companies like Apple, Nespresso and Nike. Heineken attacked its marketing with four main themes: engagement, exposure, interaction and relationships. Rather than focusing on the beer, they focused on their brand name to market the company as a whole.

A new interaction website was born. They made new “green” changes and advertised the ways they were saving the planet. The City was created to physically give customers a place to experience the brand. They developed sponsorship programs with many local businesses, including a variety of athletic venues and entertainment companies.

The City is perhaps the biggest success out of the holistic changes. The innovative store combines new age technology with the history of the company and an executive level meeting place. It is designed to attract every type of Heineken drinker. The store will hopefully be mirrored with expansions into other European areas as well.


The changes and holistic marketing for Heineken were a huge success. It took just 13 months to breakeven from the expenditures of the new campaign and opening the technologically advanced store. Over 300,000 visitors came in just the first year. As word spreads, the success is expected to increase as it has over the last few years.

The store itself is not intended to be the only means of brand marketing but the details of what is included give Heineken the ability to profit from more than its beer. The brand has expanded by selling brand labeled shirts, personalized beverage labels and commemorative souvenirs.

Holistic marketing can give your company a new spin on its advertising strategy. Heineken is just one of many big successes. For more information on the details of the changes Heineken made, view the full Executive Summary with background, presenting challenges, solutions and what’s next for the company.

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com and covers small business products and services as well as business news.  ChamberofCommerce.com is the most trusted online business directory for small businesses and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.


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