Beer continues to dominate the alcoholic drinks landscape, with 67% of adults drinking beer in the six months to September 2014. However, the category has struggled in the post-recession years as consumers continue to cut back on alcohol in general, and a rising number of drinkers switched into other categories such as cider.
Nevertheless, beer is now fighting back. Buoyed by favourable government intervention in the past two Budgets, it is expected to return to volume growth in 2014. This volume growth is being driven entirely by the off-trade as the on-trade continues to struggle largely due to its unfavourable comparison on price. Several segments such as flavoured and lower-alcohol beers continue to post encouraging growth, suggesting a brighter immediate future for the market.
Despite the rising cost of drinking out of home and the struggles of the pub industry, beer drinkers are still most likely to drink beer at the pub/bar (74%). Many consumers are switching consumption to the cheaper in-home channel, the lower prices in this channel facilitating higher volume consumption, helping to drive overall volume growth in the market. Seven in 10 (71%) beer drinkers drink beer while relaxing at home.
Some 35% of beer drinkers drink beer at home before going out to help budget their nights out. Nevertheless, beer remains popular for social out-of-home occasions such as parties, nightclubs and music festivals, with usage driven by Millennials in particular. Many brands are trying to boost beer’s associations with meals, with three in five beer drinkers already stating that they drink beer with meals both at home (60%) and when dining out of home (61%). Finally, with high-quality ingredients the factor which beer drinkers are most likely to associate with premium beers, brands should be looking to communicate their use of specific ingredients such as hops and malts to consumers. Consumers are becoming more knowledgeable about aspects of beer like hops and communicating how specific combinations of these can help to produce a unique-tasting beer can help brands to stand apart in an increasingly competitive market.
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