Backing beer

Beer is a category where Scotland differs in its tastes from the rest of UK with many brands that perform well south of the border not as strong in Scotland. Conversely, our leading lager brand, Tennent’s, is – for the most part – a Scottish-only brand. In between, there are a host of major brands, such as Foster’s, MGD and Carlsberg, that should also be in the chiller of every c-store in the country. Robert Clark, Channel Director, Impulse & Wholesale, Tennent Caledonian, comments: “Beer is recognised as a big footfall driver for Impulse but to maximize the opportunity in Scotland, retailers need to understand that Scottish impulse shoppers are different from those in England & Wales.

They shop more often and fewer are willing to try something new, so a plentiful supply of their favourite Scottish brands is crucial.” Tennent’s continues to perform heroics in the Scottish off-trade with a 19% increase from last year (over the eight weeks to the end of July) though this in part is likely down to a relatively warm summer, and it should be remembered that this comes against a general decline in Standard Lager sales in impulse for the same period. Clark adds that Tennent Caledonian also recognises the benefits of Scottish suppliers and retailers working closely together to calculate the best ranges and merchandising options for each store and its local shoppers. He says: “To that end, we are currently rolling out an increased visibility trial across 200 stores and will be launching a new website for small Scottish stores in the near future. This ensures that each outlet is stocking the right products and packs to maximise profits, and also making sure that beer is sold chilled.”

With over half of all beer purchases consumed on the same day, ensuring they are chilled gives local retailers a tangible benefit over supermarkets. “We also recommend focusing on small pack offerings, ensuring that best sellers are always stocked and prominently displayed in the chiller, ready to take home and drink,” says Clark.

It should be remembered also that the growth of popularity of ales has led Tennent Caledonian to launch Caledonia Best to its range. Alongside Belhaven Best and McEwan’s Export, the ale market is one retailers must keep a closer eye on – especially with the growth of craft beer. While not to everyone’s taste a local retailer can reinforce their commitment to local suppliers by ensuring a range of beers from their nearest craft brewery, along with the best-selling craft beers, such as those from Brewdog and Williams Bros. Another leading lager brand, Foster’s has been celebrating its heritage this summer with an on-pack promo to commemorate the brand’s 125th anniversary year. Available until October, Foster’s fans can win one of 125,000 stylishly designed I888 glasses when purchasing a pack of 440ml and 568ml Limited Edition cans which also bear the vintage brand logo honouring the brand’s birthday year. The specially-marked eight, ten, twelve, fifteen and twenty packs of Foster’s will direct fans online where they will be asked to enter the last six digits of the barcode provided to reveal whether they have won. Foster’s main marketing strategy however is harnessing the power of comedy, and the brand kept the momentum going last month with sponsorship of the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards and The Gilded Balloon’s ‘So You Think You’re Funny?’ competition.

Beers with spirit

One addition to the beer category recently has been the development of beer products with added ingredients. From Heineken’s Foster’s Radler to Molson Coors’ Carling Zest, there is certainly an interest in products such as these taking space alongside more traditional beer brands. With consumers attaching increasing importance to moderation, Foster’s Radler was launched in March to appeal to drinkers who had previously been unable to find a beer product with a lower alcohol content that also delivered maximum taste and refreshment.

Designed to reinvigorate the lager category, Foster’s Radler was introduced to lead the development of a new mid-strength moderation segment, which Heinken believes could represent a £300m category growth opportunity. Currently worth £90m, the low abv lager segment has grown by 34% this year as consumers increasingly seek out drinking options for more moderate occasions. Heineken also says the brand has delivered 55% of incremental category sales with repeat purchase rates higher than its two nearest competitors.

Two other flavoured products are available from SHS Drinks, Cuvana and Dead Crow. Mark Hopper, Head of Innovation and Development at SHS Drinks, says: “Some of the best performances in the beer category this year have come from emerging sectors such as spirit flavoured beers. In just eight months, total take home spirit beer sales in Scotland have grown from just under £0.5m to over £1m and that growth is escalating each month and it’s outstripping the performance of the total premium packaged lager (PPL) category which has actually seen sales value and volume fall by 9% and 13%, respectively, over the past year.” Hopper says this is down to drinkers, particularly those aged 18-25, to seek out and discover new drinks and flavour experiences.” He says that the reaction to Cuvana and Dead Crow has been extremely positive and cash & carries and wholesalers have been quick to spot the opportunity – the brands are now stocked by Bestway and Batley’s.” Hopper says: “Bottled beers command a premium price and generate a higher basket spend so it’s well worth investing some time and effort in developing a varied and interesting range. Although consumers may be drinking less, they are looking to treat themselves when they do have a beer.

Bottled beer drinkers also tend to be quite experimental and they are interested in exploring the wide variety of flavours available. As pack format is important for these shoppers, devote a specific block in the beer fixture to bottled beers, grouping together brands in the different sub-sectors such as world beers, spirit-flavoured beers, craft/regional ales, ‘mainstream’ premium bottled lagers.”

Diageo’s beer tips

  • Stock the best sellers 
  • Keep it chilled – ensure there is plenty of stock refrigerated at all times, as nine out of 10 shopper trips to convenience stores are ‘something for tonight’ missions 
  • Champion new products and innovation – make space for new and growing products to maintain interest in your fixture 
  • Offer a wide choice of pack sizes – smaller packs are more appropriate for the ‘something for tonight’ mission.

Miller Time makes TV return Miller Brands is continuing its television advertising campaign in Scotland for Miller Genuine Draft. The activity, which will see two bursts of advertising in August and October, will build on the 2012 “Tonight, It’s Miller Time” campaign. Featuring the song “Can’t Hold Us” by artists Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, which recently topped the UK chart, the campaign aims to drive sales for the brand throughout the summer and beyond. Sam Rhodes, Director of Customer Marketing for Miller Brands, comments: “Miller Genuine Draft is already the second biggest lager brand in the Scottish off trade, and this new wave of support will build on this success, while building the association of MGD with the ‘something for tonight’ occasion. Consumers are increasingly visiting convenience stores to buy ‘something for tonight’, often consuming their purchase within four hours of buying it. Retailers can tap into this and take advantage of the increased exposure MGD will see over the coming months by ensuring their MGD offering is kept chilled, and by stocking up on smaller packs.”

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