SABMiller is seeing more women enter the alcohol market in South Africa

SABMiller is seeing more women enter the alcohol market in South Africa

An on-going rise in the number of women in South Africa choosing to drink alcohol has been identified as an opportunity for SABMiller, with the brewer upping its focus on sweeter beers to capitalise on the trend. 

At the company's latest quarterly divisional seminar held in central London today (31 March), SABMiller flagged that 2m women in the South African market have turned away from abstinence in the last two decades. In 1995, 79% of the female population did not drink but, by 2013, that figure had dropped to 67%. 

“We are seeing the liberation and empowerment of women (in South Africa),” said SAB (South African Breweries) MD Mauricio Leyva. “There’s also an over-index of sweeter drinks they are asking for. This is driving the way we manage our portfolio.” Leyva cited the company’s Castle Milk Stout as an example of a brand that could bring women into the category.

The initiative mirrors the approach being adopted by the group’s European division, which has identified that lower alcohol beers and radlers are, on the whole, more attractive to women. The company is also upping its focus on FABs (flavoured alcoholic beverages), which has seen its share of South Africa total drinks market grow to 8% in 2013. The segment has “great legs”, Leyva said, while flagging the success of SAB’s flavoured beer, Flying Fish.

Meanwhile the South African unit is also aiming to foster a “cold beer culture” to boost sales, it was revealed today. Leyva said that beer in the country is currently sold at an average of around 7C. The aim of the initiative is to persuade bars to serve beer below 4C. “The colder it is, the more beer we sell,” he said.

Globally SABMiller is also looking to challenge the spirits sector with a range of new beers. Leyva revealed today that some of these new types of brews will be “wheat beers, pale ales and chocolate stouts”. He added: “We need to capture these spirits occasions.” 

SAB said it is retaining its medium-term forecast of 1% to 4% volume growth for beer, as challenges in South Africa, such as a weak Rand and political uncertainty in the lead-up to elections, remain.