Top of the Hops

Top of the Hops

With 2 million New Zealanders drinking beer, grabbing a cold one is commonplace in Kiwi culture. So what brews are consumers buying?

The New Zealand beer category is worth a sizeable $730 million, growing in value while the overall alcohol category remains flat. The top five beer brands ranked by sales are Heineken, Steinlager, Speights, DB Export and Corona. The biggest sales come from the 12 and 24 pack formats, but sales of single bottles doubled over the past five years, aligning to the increased popularity of Craft beers.

Since 2010 we’ve seen Light beer tripling (increased by 352%) in value sales. Craft beer has doubled (123%) and Premium and Sub-Premium beer has grown by 25%. Proportional growth across the segments has come from Mainstream beer, declining by 9% over the last five years.

The growth in Light beer has been very strong off a small base. Changes in demand are likely being driven by the lowering of the legal alcohol limits for driving in 2014 as well as an increase in flavour options such as citrus for non-traditional beer drinkers.

The exceptional growth in Craft beer highlights these specialty beers that are not only loved by hipster households, but hold a wider appeal. Craft beers generally have a higher alcohol content than traditional beer, but ‘sessionable’ brands are also now on offer. They are lower in alcohol while still delivering the full flavours Craft is famous for. This is of particular interest to younger drinkers, 18- 39 year olds, who are more inclined to drink in the weekends, perhaps having a ‘session’, in comparison to the over 40’s, who are more likely to drink throughout the week as part of their daily unwind.

The large variety of Craft beer available caters to consumers who are looking for something different in the beer aisle. The upside for retailers is that the choice provides new opportunities to drive sales—an appealing prospect that can bring incremental revenue to some of the more traditional segments of the beer category. At the same time, everyone – brewers, distributors, retailers, and consumers – don’t have infinite capacity for more and more. The trick is knowing which varieties consumers are thirsty for, particularly as the arena continues to widen.