Angela Appleton joined HEINEKEN UK in April 2019 as Senior Brand Manager for the Low and No Alcohol (LoNo) portfolio. Her newly created role involves shaping the marketing, channel and innovation strategy for the portfolio to ensure more consumers can enjoy the great tasting range of LoNo products in more places when they are deciding to moderate their alcohol consumption. Angela spoke to Grocery Trader.

What does your job involve and how much time do you spend with the multiple retailers?

My role is a fairly diverse one which brings constant opportunities to develop plans to expand and grow our Low and No Alcohol portfolio for HEINEKEN UK. I work in the Innovation team within the wider marketing department; a large part of my role is to create engaging marketing plans that support our current brands and develop innovation that consumers love. I’m also responsible for understanding the trends in the category for both the on and off-trade, and also developing the channel strategy for how we go to market. Every day is different, which I love.

As a former craft beer marketer with Asahi and Camden Town, do you think you can make great tasting lo/no beers to craft brewing standards?

All of our beers and ciders are brewed and made to the highest quality delivering on the intended taste profile. The care, attention and quality of our low and no alcohol beers is no different. For example, Heineken 0.0 is now the number one LoNo brand across the on and off-trade, which shows how much consumers love it. Our global head brewer Willem van Waesberghe brewed this beer from scratch – and now that it’s available on draught via our innovative BLADE machine, more and more people are enjoying it.

What products are currently in your Low and No Alcohol portfolio?

Heineken 0.0 (bottles and cans), Birra Moretti Zero and Old Mout Alcohol Free, with more exciting innovations planned for 2020!

What’s your bestselling LoNo SKU in the mults?

We are delighted to announce that Heineken 0.0 has recently climbed to the Number One spot in the Low and No alcohol segment in both the on and off-trade!

Is the UK a leading country for consumption of LoNo products in retail or are other countries ahead of us?

In the UK, the No and Low Alcohol segment is worth £79.6m and is in considerable value growth (+24%). The LoNo segment has been accelerating very quickly over the last few years and we are expecting continued growth with the expectation that 2020 will be the biggest year yet. Regarding other countries, the Low and No alcohol category is very well established in countries like Spain, Germany and Poland.

What are the age demographics for LoNo drinkers?

Varied. In particular it’s exciting to see that 18+ age groups are entering the category, driven by younger consumers who are looking to make more health conscious decisions and are actively wanting to reduce their alcohol, sugar and calorie intake.

What’s driving these consumers?

• Shoppers seeking these choices

• Brands backing the category and communicating clearly on the options available

• Retailers expanding ranges and creating theatre in store around the category to interest and excite shoppers

Are people drinking Low and No Alcohol all year round?

Yes – sales peak at similar times to alcoholic drinks throughout the year, the only slight variance is that Dry January offers a huge opportunity for the Alcohol Free segment.

What proportion of Heineken Low and No sales go through multiple grocers?

We’ve seen phenomenal growth in both the grocery and impulse channel where value and volume sales of No and Low alcohol products are growing significantly, with value sales in grocery multiples up +21% and volume sales up +13%.

Where do low and no drinks fit into the HEINEKEN Greenpaper’s guidelines?

Firmly at the heart of it as we have a driver dedicated to the No and Low Alcohol category called Live Better, which is performing exceptionally in all of the trade.

What are the key marketing opportunities for low and no drinks in the multiples and how are you addressing these opportunities?

Signposting the Low and No Alcohol segment in aisle and making the category easy to shop is our number one focus. Creating No & Low zones and off-location displays to disrupt shoppers to drive consideration and also getting the products into chillers are all initiatives that will help make the segment more relevant. Activating at the right time of year will also be critical; January is a key month where consumers have a more open mind set to try new things and make more health-conscious decisions. Getting the range correct for retailers is also important and ensuring feature space is used to promote alcohol and alcohol-free products together during key events.

I’m sure HEINEKEN being Worldwide Partner to the 2019 Rugby World Cup was fantastic for HEINEKEN main beer brand sales, but did it also boost sales of your LoNo products?

The initial performance of LoNo is looking extremely positive. With pubs a natural place for people to come together – particularly when they’re getting behind the national team – the availability of Heineken 0.0 meant fans could still enjoy a pint or bottle of great tasting beer when they didn’t fancy the alcohol. In a similar vein, for consumers enjoying the games at home, Heineken 0.0 offered the perfect solution for those watching at earlier times in the day than usual.

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