Let There Be Beer advert

The Let There Be Beer campaign launched today

The brewing industry today launched a major campaign to try to reverse falling beer sales and re-invent the image of the sector in the minds of consumers.

Let There Be Beer will run for at least three years after securing multimillion-pound funding from giants AB InBev, Heineken, Carlsberg, Molson Coors and SABMiller, with dozens of other breweries also committed to taking part in the campaign.

“What this campaign does is herald that beer is a great unifying presence at a lot of social events, both in and out of the home. I think retailers should see this as a huge opportunity”

Charles Wells

A TV advertising blitz will kick off during half-time of British Lions versus Australia rugby game on Saturday, alongside a raft of in-store activity in supermarkets – across both the ale and lager categories – and in pubs.

The investment follows a long-term decline in beer sales, especially in the lager category, as well as months of scrutiny of the sector over health concerns. The brewers behind the campaign said these issues masked the potential for rampant growth in the industry, particularly in the context of a booming number of smaller breweries, more diverse products, and more educated consumers.

“We’ve made a three-year commitment,” chief executive of Carlsberg UK, Benet Slay, told The Grocer. “We think there is an opportunity to do something different. Each company had to make serious decisions about how to support this and we realised it needed something that stood above the brand work.”

Enthusiastic welcome

The move was given an enthusiastic welcome by brewers at the launch event in London this week.

“The UK beer market is one of the most competitive in the world,” said Charles Wells, chairman of Charles Wells brewery, which makes brands such as Bombardier, Young’s and Directors.

“If you look at the way in which the market has changed, a lot of volume in beer has disappeared as tastes have changed. People are much more interested in things like taste, providence and heritage.

Read this

Off-trade beer market volumes fall to lowest level since 2003

Grocers and off-licences sold the equivalent of 13.02 million barrels of ale and lager between April 2012 and March this year, according to the British Beer & Pub Association. This is the lowest moving annual total recorded by the BBPA since 2003, and is down 12% on volumes five years ago

“What this campaign does is herald that beer is a great unifying presence at a lot of social events, both in and out of the home. I think retailers should see this as a huge opportunity. I think some are already doing some outstanding work but there is loads more that they can do.”

“It’s a big category that’s been under pressure for lots of reasons for a number of years,” added Simon Jackson, director of the Beer Academy.

“But there are a lot of things that are in its favour. There are a lot of iconic brands. There is also a transformation taking place in the industry, with more breweries in the UK now than at any point in the last 100 years. The consumer is showing more interest in the different types of beer and developing new tastes and this has the potential to encourage people to think more and more about beer as a very good alternative to wine.

“I think multiple retailers definitely do get it. If you go down any beer aisle, you’ll see the whole category has exploded in terms of choice, when it comes to lager, ale, British and international.”

See this week’s issue of The Grocer for more analysis on the Let There Be Beer campaign.