Molson Coors has pledged to ramp up its focus on the convenience channel after admitting beer and cider suppliers have not done enough to capitalise on the growing segment of the market.

The Carling supplier has devised a three-point plan to help off-licence owners sell more beer and cider, arguing that these are the most important drinks in this channel.

Alpesh Mistry, UK customer marketing director, told OLN: “In the 12-week Christmas Nielsen data, grocery multiples were in slight decline but convenience was up 3.4%. Shopper dynamics are changing. We realise we haven’t really focused on convenience in the way we should have done in the past few years.

“Shopping has changed and beer and cider hasn’t adapted. Beer and cider is the most important segment of convenience shopping, more important than wine and soft drinks, but we have ridden the wave rather than led it.”

The three-pronged plan focuses on improving ease of shopping, clarity around price and “shopper solutions” such as merchandising beer and cider with food.

Mistry said: “Cold beer is really important to shoppers – 80% of beer bought in convenience is drunk within two hours. We are helping retailers around ranging, merchandising, modernising the fridge and keeping it relevant, making sure bestsellers have the right space. “Clarity around price is a really big area and we can achieve that through price- marked packs.

“A third of UK adults have no idea what they are having for dinner, according to HIM research. If you walk into a convenience store you don’t often see a meal deal such as beer and pizza. We are helping retailers pulling that together, thinking about an evening for two or a night in with friends.”

The retail trade has overtaken the on-trade in beer volumes for the first time ever, and its strong performance has ended a decade of dwindling UK beer sales, according to figures from the British Beer & Pub Association.

Beer sales in pubs declined 0.8% over the course of 2014, but in the off-trade sales were up 3.5%. But Mistry believes the off-trade surged ahead due to a boost from the World Cup last summer, and sees the playing field levelling out in 2015 with no big summer sports event.

He said that in the past year Carling grew 2.5% in volume in the off-trade.

“Within beer and cider there is a lot of talk around premiumisation and craft products, which are actually in significant growth, but they make up quite a small percentage of the marketplace and we urge retailers not to forget about core products, which make up 60% to 70% of sales,” said Mistry.

He added: “Last year we gave away Now TV Sky Sports passes with Carling cans, and this year there will be two or three campaigns of the same size from Carling,” he said.

“In two to three weeks’ time we will launch a gift with purchase on Coors Light.

“With Doom Bar we are offering the chance to have your own personalised brew made down at Sharp’s by the head brewer – and it will go into shops.”