Spotlight – Premium beer market set for further growth
The global market for premium beer is set for further strong growth over the coming six years, according to a recent report published by just-drinks, but there will be marked variations in the growth rates between different regions, and innovation will be vital as competition intensifies.
Having more than doubled in volume terms between 2000 and 2007, the global premium beer market is set for continued expansion over the coming six years, according to a recent report published by just-drinks.
According to forecasts in the report Global market review of premium beer - forecasts to 2013, the global premium beer market will reach 655m hls in 2013, representing an increase of 74.7% from 2006.
However, underlining the competitive pressures in the market, value sales will grow at a significantly slower pace, the report forecasts, rising by 60.3% between 2006 and 2013 to US$242bn.
As one might expect, emerging markets will see more rapid growth than mature ones. "Asia Pacific and Eastern Europe are seen as the principal growth engines of the global market for premium beers with growth also coming from Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and the Middle East and Australasia," the report states.
While volumes in Western Europe will grow by a respectable 42.2% to 202m hls, volumes in Eastern Europe will increase by 90.5% to 120m hls, with Russia and Poland spearheading the growth. This would mean that Eastern Europe will be a larger regional market than North America by 2013, taking over as the second largest region in volume terms. Nevertheless, premium beer volumes in North America are expected to increase by 50% over this period to 105m hls in 2013. Volumes in Asia Pacific are expected to rise by 125% to 135m hls by 2013, with growth being fuelled by rising demand in China.
However, while the premium beer market is set for further growth, competition among the leading brands is intensifying.
The report states that the period from 2000 to 2006 had been marked by increased competition, notably off-trade price discounting, between leading beer brands. Total global sales of premium beer reached US$151bn in 2006, having grown by 75.6% from 2000. However, in volume terms, the market grew by 150% between 2000 and 2006 to 375m hls. "The fact that volume growth has outstripped value growth can be attributed to discounting in the off-trade, a reflection of the highly competitive nature of the market," the report observes.
The report goes on to say that market conditions have become even more competitive, making innovative and consumer-led product development vital for retaining and growing market share. "The leading players are increasingly recognising the importance of basing innovations on consumer insight, which has spawned innovations such as lower-calorie light premium beers and new draught beer systems for the home," the report states.
Scottish & Newcastle's approach to innovation epitomises the value that major brewers attach to NPD. "New product innovation can help our brands to broaden their appeal to new groups of consumers or address new consumption occasions," the brewer says. "In so doing we are often able to expand the whole beer category. Examples include Kronenbourg Blanc - a super-premium wheat beer attracting a more upscale group of consumers."
Examples of product innovation from other brewers highlighted in the report include of Heineken Premium Light, which is being imported into the US from this year, and Heineken's DraughtKeg Beer Tender, an appliance that enables consumers to consume draught Heineken premium beer at home. The appliance keeps the 4-litre keg at the right temperature and in optimal condition for a period of three weeks after the first beer has been dispensed.
Another notable innovation was InBev's launch of Peeterman Artois in the UK last year. One of the observations made in the report is that there is no precise definition of the term premium lager and that the category is somewhat nebulous, but a key determining factor tends to be alcoholic strength. Premium beers tend to range in alcoholic strength from about 4.3% to 7.5% abv, while super-strength premium beers having an even higher alcohol content. However, Peeterman Artois is significant because it is a 4% abv lager "with all the attributes of a premium lager". Indeed, the advertising campaign which supported the brand featured the alcoholic strength very prominently, specifically targeting consumers who are looking for a light-drinking beer but want something different from standard lager.
For more information or to download this report, click here.
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