Highlight New Drinking Occasions to Boost Alcoholic Beverage Success

For grocers, success in alcohol can be achieved by highlighting additional purchases for more responsible drinking occasions.

Consumers know that certain events call for celebrating with a drink in hand—from summer cookouts to watching a football game to kicking back on a Friday evening after work. But what if there were more reasons for consumers to stop by the grocery store and pick up their favorite alcoholic beverage—or branch out and try a new brew—beyond the traditional events they know and love?

Anheuser-Busch’s IGNITE strategy recognizes four pillars of category growth:

  1. Category Fundamentals inform buying and merchandising.
  2. Inviting New 21+ Drinkers with products suited for drinking age adults who are new to purchasing alcohol.
  3. Expanding Frequency of Responsible Purchases by encouraging more drinking occasions and increasing overall sales by raising awareness and educating shoppers.
  4. Driving Trade Up with a “treat yourself” mentality that encourages consumers to purchase more premium options.


The third pillar of category growth under Anheuser-Busch’s IGNITE initiative, Expand Consumption, gives retailers recommendations on what products and shopper strategies they can implement to open new drinking occasions.  Within this pillar are three ways to translate increased awareness into success: Evolve Meals, Reflective Reward and Smart Choices.

Evolve Meals

Pairing the perfect alcoholic beverage with a meal isn’t limited to the restaurant wine list. Grocers can make this move seamlessly: While customers are shopping for their meal, they can be informed and educated about a corresponding beverage at the same time. Retailers can provide suggestions for pairings in a variety of ways.

Meal-centric cross-category displays give shoppers a quick and easy way to find a beverage that pairs perfectly with their entree. Stock burger patties beside beer in a display case so customers can select a winning combo for their next backyard barbecue. Prepared meals and meal kits add to the convenience, too, such as by pairing canned wine with a hot rotisserie chicken or hard seltzer with a kebab kit ready for the grill.

Signage, displays and digital advertising can be the gamechangers here; clear, eye-catching images not only educate consumers on recommended pairings, but can also add to the appeal. Whether shoppers came to stock up on groceries and stayed for the beer—or vice versa—the perfect pairing can effortlessly increase basket rings.

Reflective Reward

With highlighting new drinking occasions comes the opportunity to leverage new beverage offerings to suit each and every circumstance, including winning in the occasion of relaxing, which is 26% of all consumption. Educating consumers on how to best enjoy their beverage with tailored recommendations for glassware and serving temperature helps elevate a relaxing experience at home.

Whether it’s enjoyed at a social occasion or a more relaxing moment, shoppers respond to the drink that best suits their desires at the moment. Consumers looking to relax and refresh will likely enjoy something on the crisp, sessionable side of the spectrum such as a lager or wheat-based brew. These, as well as IPAs and pale ales suit the shopper looking to unwind. For the perfect “me time” indulgence, grocers can offer a stout, porter or cask beer for leisurely sipping.

By stocking a beverage for any and every occasion—and marketing to consumers relaxing and refreshing in a variety of ways—retailers can make their alcoholic beverage section shoppers’ go-to source for the right beverage at the right time, providing a true treat without the guesswork.

Smart Choices

Whether consumers are looking for products that are meaningful to their healthy mindset or are simply seeking something fresh and new, the Smart Choices category has a lot to offer. According to Mintel’s Oct. 2019 Beer report for the U.S., 41% of all adults, including 51% millennials, say health-related perceptions drive their choice in beer.

There are a variety of ways grocers can provide products that appeal to shoppers' mindset—whether it’s by providing more of the appealing attributes health-conscious consumers look for in an alcoholic beverage (i.e. certified organic or locally made) or less of the aspects they may be looking to moderate or reduce (i.e. calories, carbs, high ABV).

The Smart Choices growth driver boosts the frequency of shoppers’ beer purchases by effectively marketing the attributes that appeal to their mindset: Highlighting Smart Choices in-store can involve anything from eye-catching signage, cross-category displays and shelves shared with the store’s health and wellness section as well as clear iconography on displays that shows a product is, for example, gluten-free or low-sugar at a glance.

Take the next step

Expanding the frequency of responsible alcoholic beverage purchases is a key step of the IGNITE initiative and involves practical opportunities for retailers across markets. Retailers looking for tailored insights into how to expand frequency at their own stores can contact their local Anheuser-Busch category management representative to learn more.