Why lager brands need to stay on their toes in Ireland’s On Premise

Lager remains Ireland’s most popular alcoholic drinks category after lockdown, and it continues to premiumise—but suppliers will need to work hard to protect their share of the market in 2022.

Those are among the top takeaways from CGA’s in-depth OPUS research in Ireland, which highlights a range of opportunities and challenges for the On Premise.


The survey of more than 2,500 consumers shows that 42% typically drink lager out-of-home, putting it clear of other big categories like white wine (39%), red wine (35%) and cider (30%). Lager drinkers tend to be good spenders on trips out, consuming an average of 3.4 serves on their most recent On Premise visit.


The OPUS research also reveals the motivations of lager drinkers, and the value of good branding in particular. More than two in five (42%) say they always choose their favourite brand, while a third look for value for money (32%) and quality (31%).


The interest in quality suggests the premiumisation trend in lager will extend into 2022. One in eight (13%) lager drinkers says they opt for premium drinks more often than they did a year ago, and nearly as many (11%) say they would trade up their choice. It mirrors CGA research around the world that has shown consumers’ desire for premium drinks after months of lockdowns—though with spending polarised, many drinkers are chasing value too.


However, only 16% of lager consumers say they are drinking it more often than they were a year ago—a figure that is notably below drinkers of ale (21%), stout (20%) and cider (19%). This suggests that some lager drinkers may be reducing their consumption, or are being lured away to other categories.


Other big trends identified by CGA in Ireland, like a new focus on health and innovation and a surge in cocktail sales, could further affect the lager category. Fresh restrictions on trading in Ireland, including the closure of nightclubs and a ban on bar service in pubs, are also threatening sales in the run-up to Christmas.


“Lager is still Ireland’s top drink, but COVID-19 is changing the category’s dynamics in subtle but significant ways,” says Sian Brennan, CGA’s client director, Ireland. “With other categories outstripping it for frequency since venues reopened, suppliers will have to stay right on top of consumers’ preferences in 2022. As the premium and value ends of the market grow, this will be particularly important for mainstream and established lager brands in the middle ground of drinking out.”


CGA’s OPUS research provides a rich resource of data and insights that reveal how consumers are engaging with pubs, bars and restaurants. It helps suppliers and operators answer category, channel, occasion and brand questions and optimise sales and marketing strategies across Ireland and Northern Ireland. To learn more, email Sian Brennan at sian.brennan@cgastrategy.com.

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