There’s room for growth at the top

As with other drinks categories, premium is making waves in bottled beer

IT’S become one of the big trends of the licensed trade in recent years: if you want to increase customer spend, go premium.

• On-trade customers are prepared to pay more for premium products, say drinks firms.

From gin to cider, wine to whisky, the advice from drinks firms has been to stock up on high-end products as the trend for customers to visit the trade less often, but spend more when they do continues.

Bottled beer has been no exception to this trend, according to brewers and distributors, who said the real growth in back-bar fridges has been in more premium products.

“Almost half of beer drinkers want to try new brands and two thirds are willing to pay more for quality,” said Alan Hay, sales director at Tennent’s.

And there are hard figures to back this up.
Quoting stats from CGA, Hay said packaged beer is currently performing ahead of draught in Scotland’s pubs, with packaged ales, in particular, showing impressive growth of 39.8%.

This, he said, highlights “a consistently growing demand for packaged premium and craft beers in the Scottish on-trade”.

“Over the last six years, demand for premium bottled ales has increased by 92%, with the category expected to be worth £1 million by 2020, creating a real opportunity for operators to drive sales and revenue in bar,” said Hay.
There is, of course, a wide range of premium bottled beers on the market and selecting the right bottles for an outlet can be a tricky task.

Graham Archibald, sales director at drinks importer Morgenrot, said the right range “will always depend on the size and space of a venue”.

“But if an outlet wants to make a name for their bottled range then they need to stock a range of beers with different styles, tastes, heritage and brewing methods,” he said.

Liam Newton, vice president of marketing at Carlsberg UK, agreed that there are several premium credentials licensees should look for when selecting brands for their fridges.

“Key considerations for operators when planning to expand their bottled beer offering include sourcing brands with heritage, quality and premium credentials,” he said. “Carlsberg UK’s extensive research has revealed these factors are at the heart of decision making for today’s consumer.”

As with spirits and cocktails, however, the ‘premium’ offer doesn’t end with having the right range in the fridge; the way the product is served is just as important.

“The ‘serve’ and correct glassware for super-premium brands is vital for the presentation, the ‘sell’ and taste quality of the beer so staff have to get it right,” said Stephen Kofler at Krombacher UK.

“The correct serve not only ensures that customers have the best drinking experience but it also showcases a venue in the best possible light and helps generate repeat sales.

“Our pint and half-pint tankards have seen strong interest, especially from style conscious hotel bars.”