Back to the big brands? Coronavirus shapes beverage consumer trendsMay 6, 2020
Over the last few years, consumers have shunned the mega-brands of their parents’ generation in favour of something new and exciting – brands they can call their own; brands they can relate to; brands they can interact with on Instagram; and brands that offer more than a drink but an experience as well.
Beer is a perfect example: the current cohort of hipsters have been scoffing at ‘mass-produced flavorless lager’ in favor of small independent craft beers.
But with many countries still in lockdown or observing social distancing, consumers aren’t browsing shelves or looking for something new – their shop is about getting in and out of the supermarket as quickly as possible. Many consumers, of course, are simply taking their shopping online.
In either case, they’re seeking out brands they know and trust – and with all the uncertainty in the world, there’s something conforting in having something familiar. Affordability, too, looks set to become more and more important – again playing into the hands of bigger brands over small premium batches.
And companies, too, are refocusing their efforts on their key brands. A pandemic is evidently not the best time to launch new products: there’s a considerable amount of investment and risk in trying out something new on the market.
Everyone knows Coca-Cola…
In soft drinks, Coca-Cola predicts that a return to known and trusted brands will be one of the key shifts in consumer behaviour.
“As consumers adjust to stay-at-home lifestyle, they’re making fewer shopping trips and filling bigger baskets often based on availability and orientate to known trusted brands,” said Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey, presenting the company’s Q1 results at the end of last month.
The company has already been on a mission to ‘kill the zombies’ in its innovation pipeline – taking a ruthless approach to projects which are not doing as well as expected – and this is only going to be exacerbated under coronavirus. Not only does this cut off projects that are draining the coffers, but it also means that all parties – from ingredient suppliers to retailers – can benefit from a simplified supply chain.
“For our retail customers, grocery stores for example, we’re focused on maximizing system efficiency by ruthlessly prioritizing to deliver on core SKUs and key brands and help customers simplify their supply chains,” said Quincey.
“We’re also taking this opportunity to reshape our innovation pipeline to eliminate a longer tail of smaller projects and allocate resources to fewer, larger, more scalable, and more relevant solutions for this environment.”
Coors Light and Miller Lite up
Over in alcoholic beverages, Molson Coors sees the same trends emerging. It’s pushing its efforts towards its bigger brands: and delaying the launch of new innovations.
In the case of beer this is particularly interesting: for the last few years consumers have been shunning mass-produced, easy-drinking…