Opinion

Agile alcohol brands will fare best

By Tom Bell, We Hustle consultancy

- Last updated on GMT

Lead the way: Tom Bell aims to support alcohol brands in becoming strong
Lead the way: Tom Bell aims to support alcohol brands in becoming strong

Related tags: Alcohol, Brands

We Hustle consultancy’s Tom Bell says alcoholic drinks brands leading the way in innovation will see the biggest and best cut through. Here is his analysis of what to expect in the coming months.

Some of the most established names in brewing have seen year-on-year declines in volume and revenue displaying the results of the outdated nature of the mainstream.

Propensity for discovery through craft is slowing slightly but numerous emerging subcategories such as reduced calorie/carb/sugar is quickly gathering momentum.

Functional is certainly the buzz word and consumers want more than standard, regular or mainstream. Modern consumers often need a reason, and a benefit to consumption.

Veganism and gluten-free is a growing trend and it’s important to quickly adopt these options within NPD, not only to increase revenue and market cut-through but to maximise customer trust and loyalty.

Get with the programme

Almost more importantly, is the requirement for brands forcing the associations within industry to update and adapt their policies – including new and improved guidelines to support changing consumer desires.

Consumers have been desperate to understand more about what is in their products from a nutritional perspective and the policy holders behind the alcohol industry are still stuck in the dark ages.

A bottle of flavoured water that can have fewer than five calories needs a comprehensive nutritional table, but a bottle of beer or cider, which can contain more than 300 calories, does not. Consumers want to know, and its time to get with the programme. 

Eight years ago, I established the requirement for alternatives and have watched this landscape evolve along with the products available. However, policy and guidelines remain historic/outdated and require fundamental restructuring.

I have helped build two companies within this rapidly changing sector, which has gathered significant momentum in the past two to three years. Brands should continuously develop and innovate to push the boundaries and what is possible and establish their niche, based on facts not opinions. If the data agrees – get on with it!

Boat analogy

Oil tankers (mainstream) move slowly and are difficult and reluctant to turn. Tugboats (entrepreneurial brands) are powerful for their size and strongly built, also nimble and more easily managed. When tankers require assistance, tugboats are called upon to support the manoeuvre in direction and to help navigate the huge tanker down the right shipping lane.

Innovative and entrepreneurial brands should aim to become those tugboats, pulling and pushing the direction of the market. Leading the way and guiding the mainstream from the monotony of convention. Those tugboats not yet anchored will quickly have a rope around their stern and being asked for guidance and support.

Professionally, I now aim to support brands in becoming strong and agile and help them lead the way. An exiting new career and one I am looking forward to progressing.

Related topics: Beer

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