Peroni Nastro Azurro is partnering with Martone Cycling Co. on a co-branded luxury bicycle that will anchor retail displays nationwide and be given away during a sweepstakes through the summer.

The first of about 1,000 of the $895 custom bikes began rolling out last month and are slated to remain centerpieces of retail floor displays throughout the summer.

Designed in New York by Martone Cycling creator Lorenzo Martone, the “Martone for Peroni” bicycles are a key part of MillerCoors-imported Peroni’s amped-up marketing campaign that kicked off this year. The single-speed, step-through cruisers are built on a white, steel alloy and aluminum frame and accented by Peroni’s signature blue on its wheels and seat. Handlebar grips and the bike’s chain lend a pop of red, and each bike is outfitted with a basket designed to carry picnic baskets.

Some 800 of them will be part of retail displays; others are earmarked for sweepstakes giveaways that will take place through Aug. 31. A limited number will be available for purchase on the Martone Cycling website.

“Everything Martone stands for is in the same style and space as Peroni,” says Chelsea Parker, marketing manager for Peroni and other MillerCoors prestige import brands. “It’s a high-end, design-driven brand with an understated style and of impeccable quality and luxury. It’s the perfect partner.”

Peroni initially planned for about 300 of the bikes, Parker says. But after receiving strong support throughout the MillerCoors system and demand from wholesalers and retailers, it upped its order to 1,000 bikes in what amounts to the nascent brand’s first large-scale, national retail program.

The goal is to gain additional retail displays and generate interest in the brand, which is up 12.2 percent in sales dollars and 11.9 percent in case volume year-to-date through May 26, according to Nielsen all-outlet and convenience data. In the grocery channel, a critical selling venue for Peroni, the data is even better: it’s up 14.8 percent in sales dollars on a 14.3 rise in volume, per Nielsen.

Those trends are in line with a strong 2017, when the brand outperformed the overall market for imports, which finished up 7.2 percent in sales dollars on a 5.5 percent increase in volume, per Nielsen all-outlet and convenience figures.

So far this year, the data shows, Peroni is outpacing two of its key competitors in the European lager space: Heineken (-2.5 percent in sales, -3.6 percent case volume) and Stella Artois (+4 percent in sales, +3.9 percent in case volume), per Nielsen all-outlet data.

“Those two brands are really large, important and powerful brands, but I think the U.S. beer market is ready for the next big premium European import,” says Paul Verdu, vice president of sales and marketing for Tenth and Blake, the MillerCoors craft and import division. “Peroni has a lot of momentum right now that’s the result of years of hard work and seeding the brand the right way.”

Peroni, an easy-drinking Euro pale lager, launched in the U.S. in 2005. MillerCoors gave the brand dedicated sales teams in three cities in 2015, and last year expanded to 10. Today, the brand is investing in 17 major U.S. markets.

With efforts like its House of Peroni campaign, an experiential, design-focused installation held in three cities last year, MillerCoors is taking a patient approach to building the brand first in fashion-forward coastal cities and using the buzz it generates to expand into other markets, Verdu says.

“With the House of Peroni and now with Martone, we’re taking high-end Italian style and bringing that to the world of beer,” Verdu says. “With our deliberate approach to brand building and the quality of this great beer, we’re set up to take this gem in our portfolio and accelerate it even more.”

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