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Variety is key to tapping into the premiumisation trend

World lagers: Cobra and Madri Excepcional are helping to drive trade at pubs
World lagers: Cobra and Madri Excepcional are helping to drive trade at pubs

Related tags Beer Craft beer Lager Molson coors brewing company

Much has been made of the growing premiumisation trend in beer but tapping into this isn’t as simple as stocking your bar with as many premium options as possible.

For a start, it’s important not to forget that core lager still accounts for more than one in every three pints sold[1]​, so there needs to be a selection of both core and premium options to cater for different tastes and occasions.

Even within your premium beer offering, range is key. There can be a tendency to group all premium options together without acknowledging the breadth and diversity of the category. In fact, there are a host of sub-categories and each brings its own opportunity to grow sales.

It is important for outlets to understand what these different sub-categories offer, and what role they play in their range.

World lager

World lagers are growing in popularity – the category has increased its share of draught lager sales value in the UK from 25% pre-pandemic, up to more than 40% now[2]​ - so it is key to understand how to effectively plug these into a beer line-up.

Modern European lager is perhaps the most prominent world beer segment, with an already well-established popularity, so these should be central to your line-up. There are a number of popular brands, and the category continues to expand with more options to excite consumers.

In October 2020, we launched Madrí Excepcional to help our on-trade customers drive more sales in the growing category. It quickly became the most successful on-trade launch since CGA On Premise records began, with the highest value sales of any alcohol brand in its first year since launch[3]​. It’s a perfect example of the appetite among consumers for continental-style lagers with a premium feel.

This growth has continued at pace, and in the 12 weeks to 3rd​ December 2022, it was in the top five draught lagers[4]​, while it had the highest value and volume rate of sale in the world lager category[5]​.

Outlets offering more than one modern European lager should ensure they are offering different taste profiles rather than simply variations on a theme. For example, continental-style pilsners such as Staropramen are becoming increasingly popular, providing a more crisp and hoppy flavour than the styles of lager we traditionally drink in the UK. Offering this alongside Madrí Excepcional will ensure there is something to please everyone.

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Lagers like Cobra can also add a unique option for the more discerning drinker. They traditionally pair well with foods, which is why Cobra is already available in around a quarter of the UK’s 28,000 licensed restaurants in draught and bottle format. Venues should look at how they can pair these with dishes on their own menu, particularly world foods.

Premium 4%

Beers that fall into the ‘premium 4%’ lager category can offer a stepping stone to premium for more traditional core lager drinkers. They offer broad, mainstream appeal while delivering the premium flavour quality that consumers are willing to pay a little bit more for.

Premium 4% lagers account for approximately one in every seven pints sold in UK pubs and bars[6]​. This makes including options such as Coors, the number one premium 4% lager in Great Britain[7]​. critical for operators looking to increase sales.

Outlets can also make the most of the variety within the premium 4% category. Pravha, for example, offers a unique, hoppy taste that still has broad appeal. It has generated on-trade sales worth £104m and is performing ahead of the category[8]​, emphasising the opportunity that different premium 4% options bring.

Craft beer

Craft beer is now a firmly established category, and while it still accounts for a small proportion of overall beer sales, having craft options is essential to satisfying the ever-growing demand for choice in this category. Craft keg ales have generated sales worth £537m in the on-trade over the past 12 months[9]​, demonstrating just how important they are.

Session pale ales and India pale ales are generally the most popular sub-segments, and are seeing the strongest growth[10]​, so should be at the forefront of any craft offering. There are a number of unique offerings from independent breweries, as well as ales inspired by craft trends from brands with broader appeal, such as Sharp’s Atlantic Pale Ale.

Most outlets should complement a pale ale with something that offers something completely different, like Blue Moon, a traditional Belgian witbier-style brew. Its iconic serve, with a slice of orange, also provides a point of difference that stands out to consumers.

If there isn’t room on the bar, it’s worth creating space for a selection of bottled craft options in your fridge. They usually look good and can catch someone’s eye when they’re choosing what to buy. 

A balanced range

Cost pressures will have a significant impact on buying habits, but that doesn’t mean the premiumisation trend will grind to a halt. Indeed, consumers may be more inclined to treat themselves to small indulgences when they do go out.

However this won’t be the case across the board – consumer habits will vary – so venues should ensure they are offering a varied range that includes, but is not limited to, a strong premium offering.

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Core lagers, which account for 37.9% of draught lager volume sales in the on-trade[11]​, will continue to play a key role and should still have a major presence on your bar. This includes brands like Carling, the number one lager in Great Britain[12]​.

Whatever they choose, consumers are looking for brands that deliver on quality. That’s why popular brands that are performing well across these different categories will be more important than ever.

We’re confident that if venues can get these fundamentals right, they will be in the strongest possible position to make the most of the premiumisation trend, while ensuring they are not alienating those who continue to look for their traditional core favourites.

[1]​ CGA Total GB On Trade, 52 weeks ending 28/1/23

[2]​ CGA data for Total GB On Trade, Draught Lager % value share 52 weeks ending 31/12/22

[3]​ CGA OPMS 2006-2022

[4]​ CGA Total GB On Trade, 52 weeks ending 23/1/22

[5]​ CGA Total GB On Trade, 52 weeks ending 1/1//23

[6]​ CGA data for Total GB On Trade, Draught Lager volume sales 52 weeks ending 31/12/22

[7]​ CGA data for Total GB On Trade, Draught Lager value sales 52 weeks ending 31/12/22

[8]​ CGA data for Total GB On Trade, Draught Lager value sales 52 weeks ending 31/12/22

[9]​ CGA data for Total GB On Trade, value sales 52 weeks ending 31/12/22

[10]​ CGA data for Total GB On Trade, 52 weeks ending 10/09/22

[11]​ CGA data for Total GB On Trade, Draught Lager % volume share 52 weeks ending 31/12/22

[12]​ IRI and CGA, value sales, 52 weeks to 13.08.22

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