Skip to Content

Thirsty for growth

Navigating category management in the UK drinks sector

Alex Ward-Booth Director 19/06/2023

Despite continued cost-of-living pressures, Summer 2023 represents a huge opportunity for the drinks industry.  Our research with UK consumers showed that just under 8 in 10 (78%) say that, with COVID firmly in the rearview mirror, it will be easier to go out and socialize this summer. Below, we have looked at how brands can leverage key market trends and succeed in this environment.

Normalised moderation

Our BrandVue data shows growing adoption of low/no alcohol spirits, wines and especially beer and cider over the last 12 months, with 17% of drinkers buying at least one low/no alcohol product in the last 4 weeks.  Whilst low/no alcoholic drinks appeal to consumers across the board, they are becoming more common amongst males, 18-24 year olds, ABC1s and non-white British drinkers, providing the opportunity for the sector to bring in an increasingly diverse set of consumers.

So what?

With the growth in low/no alcohol, players in the sector will need to think about ranging and merchandising on and off-trade; understanding motivation will help support decisions around innovation and layout for the category to maximise category/brand sales.  We support our clients to optimise their offer to ensure they leveraging category opportunities.

Lucky Saint have restored a historic London pub which serves both alcohol-free and alcoholic drinks.

Creating occasions and experiences

Covid has had a significant impact on social habits, leading to the growing importance for drinkers of “consumption moments”.  Recent Savanta research shows that 4 in 10 drinkers (39%) make a bit more effort when staying in or entertaining at home, making cocktails, trying new and different drinks and so on with younger drinkers most likely to make an event of staying in (56% among 18-34).

So what?

To really ‘own’ occasions, brands need to ensure their executions stand out and engage with their target audience at point of sale.  We have had extensive experience supporting our clients in executing brilliantly, ensuring that key communications at the Point-of-Sale deliver the right message at the right moment to optimise visibility and sales for specific occasions.

Exploring new tastes, flavours and formats

In the context of the cost-of-living crisis, the need to engage people with enticing, new and different drink choices will continue to be important.  We have already seen that cocktails are one of the big beneficiaries , with over 15% of the UK population buying a cocktail in summer 2022, and category growth driven in particular by younger drinkers.

So what?

Although drinkers are craving new choices, the current trading environment means NPD is under even more pressure to hit home quickly.  We are increasingly being asked by our clients to help them shape the path for their products; ensuring that they truly understand when and how they can impact decisions on the path to purchase.

On the shelves: Recent off-trade activity by Guinness demonstrating how they are looking to ‘own’ in-home consumption occasions, rum brand Dead Man’s Fingers exploring new flavour variations, and cider brand Inch’s promoting their partnership with online plant shop Patch to underline their sustainability credentials.

Adding value by adding values

Consumers are increasingly looking for companies that align with their values, especially around sustainability.

This is especially true for younger consumers.  A recent Savanta survey with Gen Z found that around 1 in 5 16-24 year olds (17%) say that “being an ethical company” is what they value the most from a  brand.  Although it is fair to say that our data also shows that idealistic attitudes are not always reflected in actual buying behaviour, recent examples show the risks for brands of ignoring the values of their consumers.

So what?

With increasingly informed consumers, brands need to ensure that they have their finger on the pulse of what is most important to their target market.  We work with our clients to help them understand the territory in which they operate so that they can engage authentically and effectively with consumers.

Based on our experience of working with both retailers and manufacturers in the on and off-trade sectors, we have developed a systematic framework to help our clients grow their categories and brands by:

  • Clearly understanding the territory in which they play
  • Shaping the path to purchase to understand where to play and how to win
  • Helping to optimise the offer to best meet the needs of the target audience
  • Enabling brilliant execution to ensure success at the point of purchase

Download: We help build categories. We can help you inform where to play and how to win. We’ll help you to understand the shopper story behind the sales data and help you to place category management at the heart of your organisational ecosystem. Download our one page overview

Contact us at [email protected] to find out how Savanta’s Consumer shopper team can help you succeed this summer!

Discover our latest insights on food and drink shopping behaviours:

Knowledge centre

Read More