A New Strategy for Driving Growth in The Alcohol Beverage Category

Success in the alcohol category doesn’t have to be complicated. Anheuser-Busch’s IGNITE initiative is designed to give restaurant operators recommendations to lead category growth.

For restaurant-goers, the number of beers available to order has increased exponentially in recent years.  

Nowadays, the wide variety of styles and price points—from value-priced, easy-drinking, light-flavored options to complex, premium beverages—has expanded the category’s boundaries and expanded the role of beer in countless occasions.

For restaurant operators, optimizing the potential of this increasingly diverse product mix requires a new approach to category management —one that incorporates the trends shaping the category today, but also operates with an informed vision of how alcohol beverage consumption will evolve in the future.

That’s where IGNITE comes in. IGNITE is Anheuser-Busch’s comprehensive approach for driving category growth. Powered by deep insights into consumers, shoppers and occasions, IGNITE provides strategies for unlocking the potential of the total alcohol category for on-premise.

The IGNITE strategy has four pillars:

To IGNITE category growth, restaurant operators must unlock the potential of these four key pillars:

Perfect Your Category Fundamentals / Having the right product assortment on draught and in package, at the right price, featured on the menu in the right way.

Invite In NEW Drinkers (of 21+) Into the Category / Target adults of legal drinking age who are new to purchasing alcohol with approachable, easy-to-drink, flavor-forward products.

Expand Frequency By Winning With More Styles In More Occasions / Build programs with consumer messaging that activate against the key drinking occasions to increase frequency.

Drive Trade Up Within the Category / Drive trade up by featuring the right products and highlighting the right attributes to encourage people to treat themselves or purchase higher end products for celebratory moments. 

Getting the fundamentals right is key for a strong category

The first step to category success lies within perfecting the fundamentals. Anheuser-Busch has leveraged cutting edge global insights and ongoing consumer research to create best-in-class recommendations for impactful execution. 

Where do we start?

Take a balanced approach to assortment to maximize both volume AND variety / A balanced approach means maintaining a healthy core lager business, which represents over 40% of the category, AND accelerating high-growth segments.

Help consumers navigate the menu by deploying customer-based design principles / To encourage diner exploration AND aid in efficiency, think differently about menu flow: design your menu in a way that educates and increases conversion.

Unlock the potential of in-restaurant marketing and promotional support / Consider taking advantage of the behaviors and exposure that is unique to restaurants, and find new ways to increases awareness and help drive check average.

Beer and flavored malt beverages lead sales growth

Beer is driving the vast majority of growth in alcoholic beverage sales when compared with wine and spirits as a whole, and there are a few trends operators should tune into for optimizing success.

4 unstoppable trends reshaping the beer category

Health and wellness / The demand for options that appeal to consumers with this mindset continues to grow. For beer, that translates to an interest in options that are under 100 calories, no sugar, reduced carbs, organic, and low-or no- alcohol beverages. Delivering on these key attributes for consumers has propelled the low calorie and organic beer segment to over $1.2 billion in sales and it’s 4th consecutive year of high growth, up 23% versus last year.

Flavor / Diners are demanding more flavor variety across the entire alcohol segment, including beer, wine & spirits. In beer, we are seeing a surge in the Beyond Beer category, especially driven by seltzers and FMBs. Consumers, and particularly new 21+ drinkers, are increasingly interested in new, flavor-forward drinks. As a result, Beyond Beer accounts for 38% of beer sales growth.

Premiumization / Diners continue to trade up across all alcohol segments. Trade up in the beer category is being driven by consumers’ desire for products with attributes such as high quality ingredients, locally-sourced or purpose driven brands. As consumers strive to present a favorable image of themselves, as well as drink beers they connect with, sales reflect their choices—Core+, Lagers & Craft beers account for 100% of beer sales growth in the on-premise.

Convenience / Convenience has always been a major trend in the alcohol category. While beer continues to lead the way, canned wine and cocktails have opened up new drinking occasions with more practical solutions. As takeout and delivery have surged in 2020, canned wine and canned cocktails have made it easier for operators to give customers the options they want. In the off-premise, canned wine accounts for 20% of wine sales growth, and canned cocktails accounts for 10% of spirits sales growth, presenting an opportunity for growth in the on-premise.

Insights fuel IGNITE

These insights are at the heart of the IGNITE category growth strategy.

Cutting-edge global and local insights around consumers and occasions build the foundation of the strategy recommendations: Stabilize core and value lager, grow the variety in product mix to draw in new 21+ consumers, expand consumption into new drinking occasions, and encourage trade up within the category.

While IGNITE provides a solid framework of recommendations to lead growth in the category, Anheuser-Busch knows it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Contact your local Anheuser-Busch Category Management representative today to learn more about IGNITE.

Find out more about driving category growth using the IGNITE strategy.