Lager giants still set standard post-lockdown

Standard lager brands continue to come under pressure from competitors in the wider category, but CGA Client Director Paul Bolton looks at the reasons why these trusted brands remain a bar staple post-lockdown
Paul Bolton, CGA Client Director

It’s clear that premiumisation in lager is a trend that is here to stay in the GB On Premise, which has only been accelerated in the post-lockdown world as more consumers look to splash out after months without a visit to a pub or bar. But there remains a huge appetite at the other end of the bar, in the shape of the trusty giants of the beer category – standard lager brands. Threats to the category are nothing new in recent memory, but through it all, standard lager has not only remained top of the leaderboards in beer, but across all drinks. But why is the category still favoured so much by consumers and what might the future hold?


When looking at how important a role the category still plays in the GB On Premise, the statistics from CGA’s On Premise Measurement Service speak for themselves. Pre- and post-lockdown, the number one and number two brands by value at a total drinks level (across beer, cider, spirits, wine and soft drinks) are standard lager brands. The largest of all the lager categories, standard brands account for nearly one in every three pints of beer and almost one in every two pints of lager, contributing £3.7 billion in sales a year to the On Premise, pre-pandemic.


The size of the category is due to its popularity amongst 7.5 million dedicated consumers.  CGA’s BrandBuilder reveals that across all lager brands, standard brands rank the highest as a “go-to choice” and “easy to drink”. They are also most likely to be seen as “my favourite brand”, showcasing a level of brand loyalty above that of any other lager category. The other area in which the category consistently scores highly on is “good value”, which is pertinent given the polarisation trend we have seen in the wake of the pandemic.


According to recent CGA consumer research, over half of GB consumers said they planned to spend the same or more once ‘normal activities’ resume post-restrictions, but that leaves a large group that plan to save more and cut down their spending. Good value for money is therefore more important than ever for On Premise visits, with the standard lager category providing a reliable entry-point to lager with customers who aren’t looking to push the boat out. On top of this, almost 60% of consumers said they were likely to continue ordering what they had typically pre-COVID-19 and On Premise operators appear to be on the same page. The most popular option for brands they would be stocking post-lockdown was “traditional customer favourites” (CGA Business Leaders Survey 2021).


Although areas such as sports and social pubs, and high street venues have been slower to return in 2021 due to restrictions, the strong return of the local pub has been good news for standard lager, with 22% of consumers saying they have been visiting more local venues since the start of the pandemic. Historical associations with sporting occasions, particularly football, will mean the category will also benefit from both the return of pubgoers watching live sport in pubs, as well matchday crowds visiting before or after the game. More consumers looking for big group occasions and a lively atmosphere post-July 19th will also benefit the category.


It is clear then that the consumer appetite for the standard lager category in the On Premise will continue, with some short-term habits likely to stretch out and play into the hands of the category as we move forward. Whilst it may not be as fashionable as lager competitors such as premium 4%, world or craft lager, its legions of loyal fans will ensure the category remains a bar staple for years to come.


CGA’s consumer and volumetric data provides many more insights into the lager category, and highlights ways to optimise range, price, positioning and much more. For details of how CGA’s research can help both suppliers and operators, email Paul Bolton at

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