Seeking a younger market for cask

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Why CMBC's Hobgoblin could help cask category

Related tags Cask ale Cellar management Beer Finance

Cask is often associated with old men and an out-of-fashion drink but if modernising the beverage and bringing down the average age of the customer is the answer to reinvigorating the category – could Hobgoblin help the category?

Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company’s (CMBC) director of marketing Miranda Osborne explains there are five great reasons to stock cask beer Hobgoblin in on-trade outlets.

Firstly, research from Nielsen in April this year showed one in every 10 pints sold in the off-trade at supermarkets and off-licences is Hobgoblin. Coupled with Toluna data that showed 81% of people surveyed said they would drink the same ale brand if it were available at pubs or restaurants gives operators something to really think about if they are not already selling Hobgoblin.

Osborne says: “The whole industry is really scratching its head and trying to work out what to do with ale and reverse its decline.

“We really need to put beers with a strong consumer pull that we know can sell because you got to do 24-plus pints a day to maintain quality and I think Hobgoblin is only really just getting going in the on-trade but it can address this issue.

“We really need to think about what beer to stock and shed any preconceptions about the brand because the data doesn’t lie, it’s really compelling. We know Hobgoblin is the number one premium ale brand in the off-trade and 81% of consumers want to drink that brand in the on-trade. This means there is this brilliant, really primed audience ready and waiting for it to go into the on-trade.

“The on-trade experience of a pint of ale is unrivalled in terms of its quality – think how amazing this off-trade beer will be as a fresh cask beer.”

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As many people will say, convincing the younger drinker to drink cask beer could be the key to saving the category and Osborne claims research by Kantar Worldpanel has shown the demographic split between Hobgoblin and a typical ale drinker in weighted in favour of Hobgoblin by younger consumers.

More affluent

She adds the younger consumer base for the Wychwood Brewery brand is more affluent than the average ale drinker and, if more pubs were selling Hobgoblin on draught, it is ready to bring younger people into cask ale.

Another means of proving youth is on the side of Hobgoblin is through social media interactions. Research states Hobgoblin has almost twice as many interactions versus its nearest cask ale rival on Instagram and close to four times as many than its closest challenger on Facebook.

Osborne says: “Hobgoblin has had a really strong social presence for years now. We work hard to keep them engaged as well. That presence really helps to drive engagement with younger consumers. We’ve up to 24,500 Instagram followers and 211,000 on Facebook.”

She adds making styles of beer that are contemporary and relevant are key and Hobgoblin Gold and Hobgoblin IPA are styles that seem to connect with a younger audience and the recent introduction of its Session IPA variant at 3.4% ABV is “very much born out of the trend of moderation, which we know is a really over-indexing trend with younger consumers”.

Osborne makes the third reason on appealing to pub operators to put Hobgoblin on their bars, which is that one may consider the brand to shine at Halloween then fade away but sales are consistent throughout the year.

She explains: “There’s been this association with Hobgoblin and Halloween in the on-trade probably from the fact cask ale is often quite rotational so it would have been brought in for Halloween – and way back there were probably some Halloween activations.

“We did a Best Sipped in the Dark​ campaign last year so we do know Halloween is an interesting point to communicate with our consumers. However, because of our off-trade presence, sales are really consistent all-year-round. We don’t see a big spike at Halloween at all and we don’t have any regional bias, which is really unusual for an ale. This is because we have grown through the off-trade first. Often cask ale is attached to a regional brewery and it grows steadily in its heartland and then it’s harder to make that nationally relevant, whereas Hobgoblin is becomes the perfect choice for any bar because we’ve got 8.8% of all UK households purchasing Hobgoblin via the off-trade and they’re expecting to see it on a bar in their local as well.”

The whole experience

She moves on to the fourth aspect, which is the new Hobgoblet glass and the overall experience it helps to bring to the on-trade moment.

“I’m a really big believer that the quality of a beer is not just the liquid,” Osborne says. “It’s everything that you put around it. And that experience of holding a beautiful pint glass and having sensorial elements means it feels really nice to hold, it’s really comfortable and you will absolutely know this is a Hobgoblin glass from the other side of a bar.”

Developing a bespoke glass is neither cheap nor quick but Osborne says MCBC wanted to do it because it was really passionate about creating better touchpoints around the age category and it needed more modernity.

Finally, the business is prepared to commit big spend to get Hobgoblin on bars across the UK from its recent Beauty Lies Within​ campaign to activations.

There has been digital activity following wins in the UK arm of the World Beer Awards for both Hobgoblin Gold and Hobgoblin IPA.

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Osborne adds: “We know we’ve got fantastic beer to talk about to our consumers and, next year, we really want to make sure that we are showing up at point of purchase so, in outlet, we will have refreshed point of sale and we’ve updated our visual identity, making it slightly more modern in terms of our creative look. This will roll out into the on-trade as well.

“We’re going to go even bigger on social and digital. It really is the big bet in ale so we are really excited to see how much traction our comms around the World Beer Awards has this year, and then what we can talk about as a brand next year as well.”

On advice for pub operators, she says they should keep a really tight range and follow CMBC’s advice in terms of stocking strategy, so that a pub is getting through its beers with a good rate of sale so quality remains high.

Osborne summarises: “Getting through your beers quickly means you’re keeping it fresher, which means your customers are having a better experience and they can come back to the same one again that they had a great pint of last time and they can have it again.”

Related topics The Cask Project

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