Quality counts in beer experience


PUB operators can access greater profits by investing more in the quality and presentation of their beer.

That was the message last week from several drinks businesses, who told SLTN that consumers continue to look for best value when on a night out.
“Research shows that drinkers of premium beer are placing more and more importance on the experience of the drink,” said John Gemmell, trading director, north, for Heineken UK.
“Getting the basics right is incredibly important for bars, pubs and clubs to remember.
“From the serve, in a quality, branded glass, to using branded accessories such as staff uniforms, to ensuring the drink is properly chilled, every seemingly little thing counts towards a high quality and enjoyable experience.”
Gemmell added that the emerging 4% ABV premium sector, a category inhabited by Heineken’s Amstel brand, is performing particularly well in Scotland, claiming the sector has seen volume growth of 33.5% north of the border compared to 19% across the UK as a whole.
But while beers around the 4% mark are taking off, growth is slower in lower strength beers, said Alisdair Hamilton of Molson Coors (Scotland).
“The impact of the introduction of new lower strength beers is yet to be felt as, despite being a growing market, it still has a low base of regular drinkers,” he said.
‘It is also worth noting that many consumers do not often know the ABV of their drink of choice. Our own research has found that taste, quality, the brand and how appealing it looks are much more important to drinkers when choosing a lager, rather than ABV.”


In fact, others anticipate increased demand for higher ABV premium beers as consumers experiment with new brands and products.
“I think people have certainly welcomed [lower ABV beers] to the market and they have undoubtedly made consumers conscious of the differing ABVs,” said Tom Coates of Love Drinks, distributor of Icelandic brand Einstök.
“However, I feel that we are on the brink of a beer revolution. People are beginning to enjoy experimenting with fuller flavoured beers of all different styles, often much higher in ABV.”
And as consumers become more knowledgeable about premium beer, it seems they are willing to try a broader range of products – and pay more for them.
“It’s happening slowly, but I think quality is starting to win the battle over quantity, which can only help in putting value into the sector,” said Graham Archibald, senior national account manager for Morgenrot, distributor of Alhambra and Cruzcampo.
However, Archibald also warned that some premium brands risk devaluing themselves by appearing at discounted prices in the off-trade, which he said discourages consumers from paying more for them in the pub.

Images: (Top) John Gemmell of Heineken UK, (above) Alisdair Hamilton, Molson Coors Sales Director.