Premium bottled ale category tipped to double in value

A leading brewer believes the UK’s premium bottled ale market will double in value over the next five years.

Marston’s used Kantar and IRI data to value the category at £330 million, but it believes it will be worth £660 million by 2018 if retailers give it more shelf space.

Premium bottled ales grew 9.8% in volume and 11.8% in value over the past year (IRI February 2013).

But in its Premium Bottled Ale Report 2013, Marston’s claims retailers lose £20 million per year by not giving enough shelf space to these beers.

Category marketing manager Thom Wilkes said: “The category currently suffers with the lowest space compared with both total number of shopper visits and also the number of purchases.

“It has more visits and higher penetration than premium lager yet only around 25% of the space and, compared with world and speciality, has double the number of visits and higher penetration yet still only half the space.

“Increasing the overall category space in line with shopper visits and penetration will significantly improve availability as well as allowing for more effective ranging and communication to engage shoppers.

“In order for the category to double in the next five years this space issue needs to be resolved quickly.”

As well as showing volume and value growth, more than 350,000 extra shoppers bought premium bottled ales in the past year (Kantar, January 2013).

To drive further growth, Marston’s urged retailers to merchandise beers by style to help shoppers navigate shelves better and to stock six-packs of leading brands.

Wilkes said: “The category has a solid platform of great brands, growing consumer awareness and occasion-led innovation, which will allow the category to double in value in the next five years.”

But he warned: “The average age of premium bottled ale consumers is 50, but encouragingly it is the under-44 age groups that will be buying more bottled ale in the next 12 months.”

“We need to help and encourage these consumers by breaking down some of the potential barriers that they tell us are there, principally the perception that the category is intimidating, confusing, and too expensive.”

Tasting notes, food matching, more knowledgeable staff, lighter styles, lower abv ales, simple pricing, sampling and a category multibuy system would all help to solve these issues, Wilkes said.

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