Quenching a thirst for knowledge

As consumers seek to learn more about beer and cider, variety is key this summer


SUMMER is finally upon us and the improved weather should hopefully drive consumers out of home and into the country’s pubs and bars. And while sunshine is never guaranteed in Scotland, demand for quality beer and cider is a sure thing.

That was the message from brewers and producers, who told SLTN that licensees would do well to ensure their respective ranges are up to date for the season.

Rob Salvesen of Kopparberg said while sales of cider “have become less seasonal”, there is “naturally a pendulum swing to more premium, refreshing and lighter bodied drinks in the warmer months”.

Therefore, fruit cider “will no doubt benefit again this coming summer”, added Salvesen.

Rob Sandall, on-trade director for Thatchers Ciders, said: “Operators should think carefully about which ciders they stock this year – the category is undergoing substantial change, so you need to refresh your range with the right brands that are going to work for you.

“We’d advise to stock draught apple cider as your number one cider, and for your second, consider your customer profile carefully and choose between a cloudy cider or a fruit cider.”

The format is also important, according to Salvesen of Kopparberg.

He said during the day, for example, draught fruit cider which is served in branded glassware with ice “means customers will be willing to pay more”, while packaged fruit cider is a more “convenient” format once the sun goes down.

When it comes to beer, variety is key, according to Anders Kissmeyer, brewmaster at Theodor Schiøtz.

He said: “Offering a quality, varied selection of beer is essential in a bar throughout the year, but even more so in the summer months when customers are more likely to enjoy a drink with friends or colleagues after work or at the weekend.”

He added that consumers are more likely to experiment and try something new during a visit in the summer months, which therefore provides a sales opportunity to savvy licensees.

“The consistent increase in beer sales across the on-trade sector is being driven primarily by consumer interest and demand for small-batch brews and the accessibility of unique, craft beers to licensees,” he said.

“This consumer interest in sampling new, often unfamiliar products continues to deliver significant opportunities during the warmer summer months.”

Stephan Kofler, sales and marketing director for German brewer Krombacher, echoed this view, stating that customers are thirsty for information about the products they consume – and are seeing through faux craft products.

“Consumers are taking more of an interest in how beer is produced, which means less are falling for the gimmicky advertising campaigns and are instead searching out authentic brands, [which are] brewed at source with unique backstories and heritage,” explained Kofler.

While craft brewers will “undoubtedly” produce various beers in time for summer, Kofler reckons 2018 will, ultimately, see a focus on quality lager, stating that operators should expect the brands which master this style and offer provenance to have “a big year” in bars across the country.

Food pairing is another useful way for operators to bolster beer sales this summer, advised Kissmeyer of Theodor Schiøtz.

He explained that stocking beers which offer food pairing notes can “not only aid bars designing a menu, but also enhance up-selling opportunities around a food offering”.

An outlet’s marketing approach is also integral to success this summer, reckons Kofler of Krombacher, who said: “Be creative with your offering, promote effectively in-outlet and on social and, finally, get your team prepared for the season and the up-sell.”