Striking the right beer balance is key

Offering breadth of range is crucial, writes Mark Bentley of Molson Coors

Tap in to sales growth: operators should ensure their draught beer range offers something for everyone, according to Molson Coors category controller Mark Bentley.

DESPITE the challenges that the Scottish hospitality sector has faced over the last couple of years, we have continued to see clear trends develop within the lager category, including a continued consumer shift towards premiumisation and world lagers gaining further traction.

With the crucial summer months ahead, it’s important that venues strike the right balance with their lager offering to make sure that they’ve got something for everyone on tap, to help them capitalise on the boost in sales that the longer nights bring.

The trendy world lager
The trend towards premiumisation in the lager category shows no sign of stopping, with consumers increasingly looking to expand their horizons beyond some of the more traditional beer options on the market – especially premium world lager.

We have seen this demand first hand with Madrí Excepcional, a crisp, clean and refreshing lager that captures “El alma de Madrid” or “The Soul of Madrid”.

Madri Excepcional has taken the on-trade by storm since it launched – breaking into the top ten best-selling draught world lagers in terms of value and currently has the third-highest rate of sale per outlet in the category.

With the world lager category growing by 17.6% in value over the past year in Scotland it’s clear that outlets should make sure they are offering a world lager on draught to cater for this demand.

Mainstream staple
Premiumisation gets a huge amount of airtime and it’s easy to see why: it’s exciting, it’s aspirational and it ultimately offers operators the opportunity to put more money in the till. But the everyday familiar favourites remain critically important.

Make sure that you are offering real breadth of range rather than depth – by this, we mean ensuring that there’s genuine choice for drinkers rather than variations on a theme.

Despite growth over the past few years in world lagers, they only make up 22% of value share of the category in Scotland compared to core lager, which remains the key pillar with over 61% value share – to put that into perspective, six in ten draught pints of lager poured in Scotland are core lager.

With core lager still dominating the category in terms of both value and volume, it is important that outlets have brands like Carling – currently the fifth largest draught lager in Scotland and number one lager brand in GB – as key fixtures on their bar. It’s perfect balance of sweetness and bitterness make it a staple choice that can be enjoyed across a host of different occasions.

Madri is said to capture ‘the soul of Madrid’.

The undervalued category
So, if your first draught tap is core standard lager and your second is an adventurous world lager what would the third be?

Operating in the middle ground between world lagers and core standard lager, but still playing to the premiumisation trend, premium 4% holds a huge amount of opportunity.

“It has half the listings of core standard lager, but is currently performing much better, with 4.7% value growth – and is worth over £35 million to venues across the country.

Operators should add a premium 4% lager to their draught offering to capitalise on this great opportunity to drive sales over summer and beyond.

Coors offers a refreshing, crisp, easy-drinking option that is perfect for social occasions – which is why it has enjoyed 8.4% growth over the past 12 weeks and remains Scotland’s number one premium 4% brand.

With Coors representing over £14 million of value in the sub-category, almost double that of its nearest competitor – it’s the ideal third addition to the top three taps on any bar.

Adding a premium 4% to your line-up will be key to getting the balance of your lager offering just right and the latest data shows that venues are starting to take notice of this growth potential with a 31% increase in distribution over the past 12 weeks alone.

While it is easy to get distracted by the exciting new flavours and innovations in the market, it’s key not to overlook the importance of the familiar favourites across core standard and premium 4% lager – which is where the opportunity lies. These remain the go-to choices for so many drinkers on a wide variety of different occasions and should be at the heart of any bar.

Mark Bentley, on-trade category controller at Molson Coors
Mark Bentley, on-trade category controller at Molson Coors.

• Mark Bentley, is on-trade category controller at Molson Coors.