Stella Artois has again been crowned with the number one position in Nielsen’s countdown of the top 100 BWS brands in Britain. In spite of it showing a drop in sales, the overall brand maintains a healthy lead over its closest competitors. The core Stella Artois lager has strengthened, growing 2.3%, while other brands in the portfolio, such as Stella Artois 4% and Cidre, have had a tougher time.

helen stares BBAB

There have been some strong performers this year. In terms of value growth, Budweiser has performed the strongest, increasing sales by £57.8m. It’s still early days for Bud Light, which has bolstered the performance of the Budweiser portfolio, with the main source of growth being the core Budweiser brand, with sales up nearly 18% year on year.

In terms of some of the fastest movers on the list among spirits, Tanqueray is the star performer, moving from 99th last year to 73rd this year - leaping 26 places in total. This comes about as a result of both Tanqueray London Dry and Tanqueray No Ten showing a strong increase in sales.

It’s been a bumper year for gin as a whole. For the first time, there are four brands of gin in the top 100 listing, all of which have shown double-digit growth compared with last year. This comes as only one of the top four vodkas, Absolut, achieves this feat.

One notable element of the top 100 listing this year is that there are very few brands of sparkling wine listed. However, this doesn’t mean they’re not performing well; it’s just that so much of the strong performance of sparkling wines, especially prosecco, comes from own label. In wine brands, Barefoot is the strongest performer, growing value by over £27m to reach £125.4m in the latest year.

In beers, other than Budweiser, the biggest brands have, on the whole, struggled to grow value compared with this time last year. Corona has moved up 12 places in the rankings and has overtaken Peroni Nastro Azzurro to become the biggest brand in what we classify as ‘world beer’. Leading craft beer BrewDog has taken a massive leap and landed at 65, overtaking more established brands such as Cobra, Malibu and Lanson.

Stepping away from BWS, our consumer confidence survey shows a slight drop in positive sentiment among GB shoppers. When we see a fall in confidence, this often comes alongside an increase in concerns over personal finances, and with the backdrop of uncertainty around Brexit, we fully anticipate this trend to continue.

With this in mind, we might expect to see shoppers turning to cheaper products, and indeed, this is the case for many categories in overall grocery. But BWS remains special to shoppers and it’s not an area where they are prepared to compromise. What we’ve seen over the last year or so is a movement towards drinking less, but drinking more premium products, and some of the strongest-performing brands on the Nielsen top 100 fall into this category. It is our expectation that this trend will continue into 2018 and beyond.

Helen Stares is client business partner at Nielsen