World lager prospering after lockdown

The world lager category is emerging as one of the big winners in post-lockdown drinking-out. CGA client director Paul Bolton shares insights into its recent growth, its huge value to the On Premise and the big opportunities for suppliers and operators

CGA’s research has highlighted world lager as a hot category for some time now, with Italian and Spanish brands in particular generating strong sales before the pandemic hit. As well as the quality of the beers, glossy and heritage-led marketing campaigns have helped to draw in aspirational drinkers who were looking for a more premium option.

 

The result was that world lager accounted for 27% of all lager sales by early 2020, having grown its share by nearly four percentage points in just two years. CGA’s OPMS data showed it had become a £2.5bn-a-year category that was stocked by more than 100,000 outlets

 

Although COVID-19 interrupted the momentum, the category has gone from strength to strength since reopening, and new brand launches and acquisitions by big brewers are likely to sustain the trend for the foreseeable future. Early trading data after the easing of lockdown showed that many consumers were seeking to treat themselves to premium drinks after months away from pubs, bars and restaurants—a trend that world lager has been perfectly placed to exploit.

 

CGA’s latest trading figures show the category continues to make major gains in market share. In the most recent quarter it has attracted 33% of all lager sales by value—a gain of six percentage points from the same period in 2019. Community pubs and food pubs have been achieving particularly impressive growth, perhaps because so many world lager consumers are working from home at the moment, and taking their drinking habits to local outlets rather than city-centre ones.

 

Growth has also been evident across all regions, tenures and outlet types. Much of it has come in outlets that CGA classifies as standard rather than premium—a sure sign that world lager now has widespread appeal. Some of its success has come at the expense of mainstream lager brands—especially on draught, which has made up the bulk of value growth in recent years.

 

CGA’s BrandTrack research provides important insights into world lager consumers. It shows that by February 2021 the category had more than nine million GB consumers, or 21% of the population, having added more than 600,000 new drinkers in just three years. These consumers tend to be free with their spending, and more than two in five (42%) of them drink out at least weekly.

 

CGA’s MATCH consumer segmentation emphasises the high value of world lager consumers. It shows that more than a quarter (27%) of them are in the Trending Tastemakers and Sparkling Socialisers groups, both of which tend to visit venues often, spend heavily and influence the choices of others.

 

All of this is reflected in the high price point that world lager commands—an average of £4.52 on draught, compared to £3.74 for draught premium lager. As more and more businesses note the value of the category, and the range of brands stocked by venues climbs, competition is becoming increasingly fierce. The challenge now is to find ways to stand out from the crowd—but with world lager’s appeal still spreading fast, there is plenty of headroom for more growth.

 

CGA’s consumer and volumetric data provides many more insights into the world 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 paul.bolton@cgastrategy.com.

 

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