Restaurants' Guide for Accelerating Category Growth and Unlocking the Value of Variety in Your Portfolio

It can be easy to get lost while looking at the variety of styles available in today’s beer category, but if properly managed, this diverse beverage assortment can provide a road map to success for restaurant operators.

Anheuser-Busch’s IGNITE strategy for driving growth in the beer category has outlined the opportunities for restaurant operators to invite new 21+ drinkers into the category, expand their consumption into new drinking occasions and encourage them to trade up to more premium varieties. At the heart of this powerful new tool is Anheuser-Busch’s deep understanding about who is drinking, when they are drinking and what drives the choices they make.

The strategy begins with a focus on the category fundamentals, including draught, assortment, price and menu optimization that provide the necessary foundation for restaurants to have a strong alcohol beverage program. Execution of these fundamentals is the first pillar of the IGNITE strategy, and once that foundation is in place, restaurant operators can focus on the other three objectives of IGNITE: inviting new 21+ drinkers, expanding their drinking occasions and encouraging trade up.

Invite In

There are two broad categories of consumers who are prime candidates for inviting into the beer category: women and those who are 21+ who have not yet joined the category completely.

Women purchase beer less frequently than men, but they have a growing affinity for drinks such as fruit-forward craft beers, hard seltzers and low-ABV kombuchas.

Women consume 40% of all alcohol in the US. They consume 28% of spirits, and more than their fair share of wine, at 67%. But when it comes to beer, they under-index slightly at 38% of beer consumption.

Today, 69% of 21- to 34-year-olds purchase alcohol at least once per year. 54% purchase beer. That means 15% of 21- to 34-year-olds are participating in the alcohol category, but ignoring beer completely. That’s 9.5 million people. This group of consumers, which we call beer rejectors, represents an important growth opportunity. If we could get just 10% of them to start buying beer, it would be nearly 1 million more beer consumers each year.

The One Key Growth Driver to Invite In:

  • Savor The Flavor / The Savor The Flavor Growth Driver aims at winning with 21-29 year olds and inviting women who are currently rejecting beer. These consumers can be inviting into the category with flavor-forward, sessionable, on-trend alcoholic beverages.

Expand Consumption

An easy way to get diners to order beer more is to introduce them to more styles of beer. After all, consumers with a larger repertoire of beer styles they enjoy, in turn, consume more beer overall. There is, therefore, a clear opportunity to drive category growth by expanding the number of beer styles and beer occasions diners consider. To do this, restaurant operators must help diners expand the number of styles they consider, as well as help them realize there is a style of beer that pairs perfectly with their meal.

Key Growth Drivers To Expand Consumption:

  • Evolve Meals / Meals are the biggest and fastest-growing occasion, representing 39% of total alcohol and 36% of beer. Furthermore, alcohol consumption in meals as an occasion is growing 22%. Restaurants have an opportunity to drive growth in the beer category by educating consumers about which styles and flavors pair best with different foods, and encouraging beer varieties that can be enjoyed with their meal. 
  • Reflective Rewards / Consumers have been turning to other beverages for relaxing occasions, but restaurants have an opportunity to lure them back to the beer category by highlighting certain beer attributes. Consumers have two need states in a meals occasion: refresh and reinvigorate, and sip and savor. Restaurants have an opportunity to unlock growth by winning in this occasion by activating two ways. First, reinforcing lager’s credentials as crisp, cold and refreshing for consumers looking for refreshment. Second, highlighting the darker, more robust styles and their savoring credentials for consumers looking for that sipping moment.
  • Smart Choices / As consumers seek products that appeal to their health-conscious mindset, they are often attracted to low-carb, low-calorie and low-sugar options, along with beers that offer specific on-trend attributes, such as organic ingredients. This also includes lower-ABV options for those seeking moderation. Having these beers properly represented by placing them in the right spot on the menu and highlighting key attributes, such as calorie count, will help expand consumption among consumers seeking specific attributes. 

Trade Up

Consumers are trading up across beer, wine and spirits, making premiumization one of the top drivers of growth for the category. It is important to understand what attributes drive consumers’ propensity to trade up and activate against them.

 Key Growth Drivers To Trade Up:

  • Image Matters / Consumers in the 21-29 age range are most likely to purchase more expensive beer that carries a badge value they feel reflects the image they want to portray.
  • Social Treat / Another group that has a high propensity for trading up are middle-aged men, who gravitate toward better-quality beverages as a treat during their less frequent social occasions.

While IGNITE provides a solid framework 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.