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Buoyed by price: beer and cider value sales
Beer and cider value sales 
  Value this year (£m)  % yoy change
Total Category (Beer & Cider) 3205.3 6.3
Lager 1727.6 5.1
Cider 815.0 7.5
Ale 583.8 7.7
Stout 78.9 11.6
Branded 2912 4.7
Own label 293.3 26.1
Source: Kantar Worldpanel, 52 w/e 25 Feb 2018    

Lager, ale and stout have all seen robust value growth, with value outpacing volumes. Notably, volumes for lager remained flat. 

This has been driven by a rise in average price, partly due to long-term trends in the mix of categories that shoppers are buying into. Craft brews and world beers are flying off the shelves, while mainstream lager brands such as Foster’s and Carlsberg struggled to remain relevant.

Prices are also being driven up by a drop in promos across the mults (apart from volume deals, which are on the rise).

Promotions are more likely to play a bigger role over the next few weeks due to the World Cup, especially in lager, which accounts for nearly half of all serves in the on-trade during football tournaments. 

Despite historically undertrading in alcohol, Aldi and Lidl are making their mark on the sector, sending own label beer and cider sales surging 26.1%. 

Cider sales have surged a whopping £56m, driven by the increasing popularity of fruity and posh apple flavours.

Rupert Davies, Kantar WorldpanelBrands vs own label

Bud and Stella dominate, but face competition: top 10 beer & cider brands
Top 10 beer and cider brands  
  STELLA ARTOIS  £    523.8 4.2%
  BUDWEISER (inc. Bud Light)  £    418.4 13.3%
  FOSTERS  £    354.2 -11.9%
  CARLING  £    326.1 2.9%
  STRONGBOW  £    266.8 -5.2%
  CARLSBERG  £    183.9 -11.3%
  KOPPARBERG  £    150.2 3.5%
  CORONA  £    139.2 10.6%
  PERONI  £    134.5 10.4%
  KRONENBOURG 1664  £    127.6 -4.1%
Source: Nielsen, 52 w/e 21 April 2018    

Across all alcoholic drinks, value is increasing more quickly than volume as a result of price rises. This is particularly poignant in the beer category, where the fastest increases are coming from craft ales and world lagers.

It’s therefore little surprise that three of the top five winners in terms of value gain are from BrewDog, by far the biggest craft beer manufacturer.

Stella Artois and Budweiser may be absolutely dominating lager sales, but premium world lagers are also making their presence felt, with big gains for Estrella Damm and Hop House 13.

Brits aren’t being discouraged by higher prices. In fact, the reverse is true: consumers are drinking less, but opting for drinks they perceive to be better.

In light of the trend for drinking less, but more premium brands, some bigger, mainstream lagers are faltering. A similar pattern is emerging in cider.

While flavoured ciders such as Kopparberg and Rekorderlig show stable sales (Kopparberg is up 3.5% to £150.2m, while Rekorderlig is up just 0.2% to £39.8m), there are other brands leading the way now. As with the beer movement, we’re seeing more ‘craft’ cider brands coming through the market, with Thatchers and Henry Westons in particular driving sales. Henry Westons has grown an impressive 12.4% to £50.5m, while the value of Thatchers has surged by more than a third (34.2%) to £64.3m.

Beer & cider top 10 advertisers
Beer & Cider - 1st April 2017 - 31st March 2018     
Media TOTAL   Cinema Outdoor Press Radio TV
Brands Spend (£) Y-O-Y % % % % %
Guinness £9,593,315 18.32% 7.60% 47.40% 0.10% 0.00% 44.90%
Thatchers £5,806,896 56.09% 9.10% 51.50% 2.30% 0.00% 37.20%
Carlsberg £5,120,028 313.15% 8.50% 13.40% 0.30% 0.00% 77.70%
Strongbow £4,712,563 -1.88% 20.70% 0.00% 0.10% 13.00% 66.10%
Bud Light £4,544,221 146.61% 3.90% 4.10% 2.10% 0.00% 89.80%
Budweiser £3,913,748 1.00% 7.00% 41.60% 0.00% 0.10% 51.30%
Amstel £2,722,572 82.64% 54.70% 0.00% 0.50% 0.00% 44.80%
Foster's £2,675,678 4.98% 34.70% 0.00% 12.10% 0.00% 53.20%
Bulmers £2,487,423 59.02% 0.00% 61.30% 38.70% 0.00% 0.00%
San Miguel £2,422,039 16.47% 70.10% 0.00% 29.90% 0.00% 0.00%
TOTAL (Top 10) £29,777,023 40.70% 9.60% 28.20% 0.90% 2.10% 59.30%

Carlsberg's costly quest to reinvent itself saw the brewer splash out over £5.1m on advertising this year, including its ongoing slick 'Danish way' campaign and 'Danish quarter' pop-ups at music festivals.

However, it ditched its long-running World Cup sponsorship this year (which was snapped up by rival Budweiser), citing a desire to focus more on live music instead of sports.

Bud Light has been the apple of AB InBev's eye. It's mounted a new, medieval-themed 'Dilly Dilly' push to accompany the rollout of Bud Light in 330ml bottles. That Bud Light racked up £30.5m in extra sales this year suggests the brand is striking the right chord.

Discounter boom: five fastest-growing beer & cider retailers
Five fastest growing beer and cider retailers 
  Value share Value increase yoy
Aldi                                 6.1 23.4  
Lidl                                 4.4 16.8  
 Asda                               12.7 8.7  
Waitrose                                 4.9 6.7  
Sainsbury's                               13.6 6.0  
Source: Kantar Worldpanel, 52 w/e 25 February 2018      

Tesco may command the highest share in the category of any retailer, but its value sales of beer and cider grew the slowest at 0.1%, held back by a 0.7% decline in lager sales.

Of the mults, Asda saw the most significant increase in value sales of beer and cider. The super has spent the past two years significantly rationalising its range in favour of posher and craft SKUs.

Higher-end convenience retailers continued to perform strongly this year. The Co-op and Marks & Spencer increased their value sales of beer and cider by 4.5% and 4.2% respectively.

Beer and cider sales growth significantly increased at the discounters over the past 12 months, too. Impressive, considering that this time last year value sales of beer and cider at Aldi and Lidl were growing at 7.1% and 2.1% respectively. 

This doesn’t necessarily spell bad news for the supers. According to Kantar analyst Rupert Davies, the sector could “continue to benefit from the halo effect created by the hard discounters’ much-publicised award-winning wines and spirits”.