This is the perfect time of year to grow beer and cider sales, and if you are able to source stock during the ongoing CO2 shortage, then Priyanka Jethwa has just the insight and advice you need

Balancing a craft, premium and no- and low-alcohol beer and cider range doesn’t have to be complicated, but with the growing demand in all three sub-categories, it is essential you get it right. To find out how to do this, we spoke to leading and emerging suppliers, including Heineken, Sheppy’s, Thatchers, Big Drop Brewing Co and Nirvana Brewery, to investigate the trends in each area. We also find out from Mital Morar, who runs the trendy Ancoats General Store in Manchester, and Marija Lewis, whose Bargain Booze Mary St in Porthcawl has become a destination store for new alcohol products, how they have perfected their beer and cider ranges for their shoppers.

Three things you need to know about the beer and cider category this summer

grow-your-beer-and-cider-sales-CIDER.jpg 1. For those looking for a treat… Shoppers are increasingly looking to trade up to enjoy a treat at home – and as a result, demand for premium beer and cider has grown. Toby Lancaster, category and shopper marketing director for Heineken, says it is crucial retailers ensure their chillers are fully stocked for the World Cup and summer period with premium options. 

“Ensuring the correct range and pack sizes are available and kept chilled will see a spike in sales during this time,” he says. “Cross-merchandising premium alcoholic beverages with meals, meanwhile, can also help increase sales.” 

According to Heineken, the number of occasions when people consume alcohol with a meal has increased by more than 5% in the past four years, and Mr Lancaster says positioning beers and ciders with food can boost sales as shoppers plan barbecues and other summer events. James Kennedy, head of off-trade at Thatchers Cider, says premium apple ciders are also in growth. “Thatchers Gold and Thatchers Haze are driving growth in the apple cider category, because they offer retailers higher margins,” he says. 

Shoppers are increasingly looking to trade up to enjoy a treat at home

2. For those wanting something different… Craft beer and cider are increasing in popularity, especially among millennials, who are looking for heritage brands that have traditional credentials. David Sheppy, director at Sheppy’s Cider, says this age group prefers craft beer and cider brands that have a back story and are willing to pay more for them. “44% of cider drinkers are interested in the heritage of their chosen cider brand, and with the growing trend in canned ciders, we recently launched a new 330ml format of our VAT 07 Cloudy Cider and VAT 14 Classic Cider.” Their popularity, he says, is partly because they are easy to open and lighter to carry. 

Byron Biroli, marketing and development at Nirvana Brewery, agrees, adding the craft category
is a dynamic segment that is being inspired by shoppers being a lot more interested in the traceability, provenance and ingredients of their drink. “This means shoppers are also willing to pay more for craft labels, helping retailers increase their profit in the category.”

3. For those abstaining… One in five adults are now teetotal in the UK, and retailers should therefore be aware of the rise in the trend for low- and no- alcohol options. 

Rob Fink, founder at craft beer brand Big Drop Brewing Co, says shoppers are actively seeking out low-alcohol beers, either as an impulse purchase, because they are driving or as a healthy lifestyle choice. “To maximise profit in the low-alcohol category, we recommend retailers draw attention to the range by creating a dedicated low-alcohol display, rather than mixing with full-strength counterparts. This way, customers looking for a low-alcohol drink will know where to go, rather than scouring the shelves.” 

Byron Biroli, at Nirvana Brewery, says offering low-alcohol beer helps retailers differentiate themselves from multiples. “Once shoppers know you stock it, they are likely to make a repeat purchase and use your store as a destination. This is because independents are in a better position to offer new and upcoming brands,” he says.  

How are retailers balancing premium, low- and no-alcohol, and craft beer and cider?

Marija Lewis.pngMarija Lewis

Bargain Booze Mary St, Porthcawl

Now that summer has finally kicked in, sales of cider have grown around 15% for us. We generally tend to stick to mainstream brands of cider and beer – however, we have invested in a few premium, world beer lines such as Asahi and Birra Moretti, which are quite popular. This is because when shoppers go on holiday and come across a brand they like, they come and look for it in our store. We also have a range of Greek lagers that are popular, alongside eight low-alcohol lines. As we have a mixture of shoppers, it’s important to invest in premium, low- and no-alcohol and craft, as this way everyone is catered for. Also, along with keeping up with what is trending via the press, Bestway’s Bargain Booze team also help us promote new products.

Mital-Morar.pngMital Morar

Ancoats General Store, Manchester

We try and cater for the majority when it comes to our beer and cider selection, while putting our own twist on it by offering shoppers fashionable and trendy beers and ciders – something they might not have heard of before. There is definitely an appetite for craft beer and cider brands, alongside premium labels. I think all retailers should stock a range of craft, no- and low-alcohol, and premium beers and ciders, because this will help them become a one-stop shop in the category. Low-alcohol beer around 2% to 2.5% ABV is definitely trending at the moment, and it’s not just a lifestyle choice, but because shoppers like the taste of it. Heineken 0.0 in particular is very popular, as well as a German brand called Schöfferhofer, which always does well in the summer.