The best beer portfolios are those that are assembled with a close eye on an outlet’s customer base, according to David Scott, director of brands and insight at Carlsberg UK.
“If you are trying to attract mainstream consumers then you need mainstream brands that they know and love,” said Scott. “If price is key for most of your drinkers then it’s vital to stock brands that you can sell at affordable prices. But if you want to differentiate your offer and stand out from the crowd then stocking some world lagers or craft beers can offer your customers a more premium drinking experience.”
And contemporary beer drinkers are more open to premium styles of beer than might have been the case in the past, according to Heineken trading director John Gemmell.
“Today’s young adult drinkers are likely to be more ‘widely-travelled’ than previous generations and often recognise and appreciate world beers from their holidays, which makes them more receptive to premium beer brands from further afield,” he said.
“Similarly, world beers are often viewed as more being indulgent and are consequently viewed as a ‘personal treat’ or ‘self-reward’ at the end of the working day or week. So whilst we have seen a reduction in overall leisure spend, drinkers are often willing to pay slightly more for premium products.”
Operators looking to expand their beer offer needn’t be intimidated by the breadth of choice in the market, however.
“It’s important that operators play to their strengths and choose one or two key categories they want to be famous for,” said Chris Houlton, managing director for Greene King Brewing and Brands. “These should start with a rock-solid range of core brands and as through-put grows this should be added to with more brands offering choice and innovation.”
Selecting the product range is only part of the challenge, however. Staff training is also vital to making the most of beer, according to Tennent Caledonian managing director John Gilligan.
“As drinkers become more discerning and want to know more about the brands that they are drinking, it’s crucial that bar staff have a good understanding of the products that they are serving. This is where great training comes in.”