Premium bottled ales: retailer exclusives cannibalising market

12 May, 2014

Sales of own-label premium bottled ale grew by almost a third in 2013 – but a

leading brewer says retailer exclusives are not attracting new consumers into the market.

Badger brewer Hall & Woodhouse says in the 2014 edition of its Premium Ale Insight Report that 32% growth in value sales pushed private- label to 4.8% share of the premium ale bottled market, but this is still peanuts against other categories within BWS.

The report says: “This growth is not as a result of attracting new customers to bottled ale, but from existing branded bottled ale customers adding own-label to their repertoire.

“Although own-label helps to differentiate a retailer’s offer, care must be taken to ensure that positioning of own-label bottled ale ranges does not devalue the category by trading down existing shoppers.”

Hall & Woodhouse managing director Anthony Woodhouse said that, overall, bottled ale had enjoyed “another exceptional year”.

The report showed total bottled ale was ahead by 10.8% by value (Nielsen, year

to Jan 4), while premium canned ale dropped 2% over the same period, despite anecdotal evidence from many independent retailers of growing consumer interest in cans.

Woodhouse added: “Increased innovation by brewers, and retailer focus, have driven levels of customer engagement and experimentation within the category.

“Conversely, the premium canned ale category fell into decline in 2013.

“While levels of promotional investment have increased this has not attracted new customers into premium canned ale and, in the longer term, risks driving value out of the category.”

Meanwhile, figures from the British Beer & Pub Association show the shine rubbing off the overall take-home beer market in the early months of 2014.

Wet winter weather and the late Easter saw off-trade sales dip 1.8% in the first quarter after increases of 12.5% and 3.9% in the third and fourth quarters of 2013.

BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “The outlook is certainly more positive with the Easter sales, an expected World Cup uplift and the further boost from a cut in beer duty from the chancellor.”

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