Beer Category Fundamentals & Merchandising Tips from Anheuser-Busch

Mar 5, 2020

The beer category is expanding, with new products capturing shopper attention and health and wellness shopper trends heavily influencing item selection. With flavor forward beverages accounting for 24 percent of alcohol sales growth and lighter beer options at 25+ percent and the fastest-growing beer segment, retailers must pay attention to the options beyond craft.

To unlock future growth in the beer category, we must understand who is drinking, when they are drinking, and what they are drinking. The Who, When, and What are at the heart of the Anheuser-Busch IGNITE category strategy.

Category fundamentals:

  • Win at shelf by rightsizing space and offering a balanced assortment
  • Ensure you are executing the right price points across the mix
  • Run weekly features to increase shopper engagement
  • Leverage displays in high traffic areas to drive conversion

These fundamentals, when implemented properly, will drive increased frequency, trade up, and recruitment through Smart Choices, Savor the Flavor, Evolve Meals.

AB Ignite Category

Activating Category Growth Pillars

Smart Choices:

  1. The Balanced Choice segment is the fastest growing beer segment +25% per year for the last three years as on trend offering of a lighter option that is aligned to shoppers’ health and wellness lifestyle choices. This segment focuses on the low-calorie or low-carb beers. “For example, our own brand Ultra is the number one growth in the marketplace,” says Keith Campo, director of large formats at Anheuser-Busch. Hard seltzer, with all-natural ingredients and low carbs, is also seeing a spike in popularity.
  2. Health & Wellness is a critical factor in consumer’s food and beverage choices, and with increased assortment, summer programming, and aisle wayfinding; the beer category will be well positioned to win with this shopper mission.

Savor the Flavor:

  1. Sits nicely in Beyond Beer, with an opportunity to continue to recruit women and LDA shoppers with a flavor forward assortment. Delivering not only 31 percent of beer growth in the past three years but also 24 percent of total alcohol growth. This segment is well-represented in Bud Light’s new release of 15 flavors of seltzer. 
  2. A flavor forward flow from sweet to refreshing coupled with display programming is the key to capturing these new category shoppers.

Evolve Meals:

  1. 36% of beer is consumed during meals and alcohol consumption with meals is growing +20%. And experience is key as casual meal expectations evolve, and present new opportunities to deliver pairing suggestions and options that are good for sharing.
  2. Leveraging displays with POCM designed to highlight meal pairings and incremental displays partnered with meal kits and fresh foods provide an opportunity to capture incremental baskets and increased occasions.

Merchandising Tips

  • Lead with near beers. Position the placement at the end of the aisle for new users who don’t get down the aisle.
  • Look at how you organize your shelves. Is it by brand, by drinking occasion? Do you have a balance of core and premium? Is it easy to shop?
  • Manage assortment for who’s in your store. Offer some opportunities for trade up, but at the same time don’t make too much assortment. Too many choices confuse the customer.
  • Build confidence with craft. Feature a good representation of local and look for ways to educate the customer through micro-messaging, staff recommendations, reviews, etc. “It gives them confidence about how it’s going to taste. Wine has done a good job with this,” says Campo.

Want to learn more? Watch the Driving Sales in the Beer Category webinar. 

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