As one of the oldest and most widely consumed beverages, beer remains in the thick of a challenging era. Over the last several years, the global beer industry has experienced a roughly stagnant if not decelerated market with various factors impacting consumption. Having to face structural challenges, tighter regulation, higher competition, and a change in consumer habits, brewers are focusing on innovative strategies and distribution channel developments to maintain their returns and margins. This report from J.P. Morgan’s Global Research team analyzes the state of the global beer market, the rise in premiumization and the growing complexities companies have been challenged with.
Although global consumption has been leveling off, some regions have been roughly stable and withstood increasing portfolio complexity and stricter retail access. Traditional markets such as North America have been flat while developing markets are experiencing growth. Latin America (LatAm) accounts for 17% of world consumption, and demand has been growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.2%, led by Mexico, where demand is expanding at a 3.4% CAGR, the fastest in the region.
In terms of global consumption, China takes the gold as the largest beer market with 22.4%, followed by the U.S., which accounts for 13%, and Brazil with 6.8%.
Away from China, beer sales are declining in other traditionally large markets such as Australia and Germany. Various factors explain this change in consumption, including tougher retail access, a shift in consumer preference towards craft beer and other alcoholic beverages such as spirits. In other countries such as the U.S., consumption has also decelerated. However, even with the rise in competition from other beverages, consumption continues to expand in emerging economies such as India, Thailand, South Africa, Mexico and Vietnam, where demographics and income per capita have boosted consumption.
Premiumization is far from a new trend, but has played significant importance in shaping the global beverage industry. Consumers are willing to pay more for better quality products, exclusivity and a more enjoyable consuming experience. Over the years, large markets such as U.S. and Australia have trended towards premium beer with high growth emerging markets following suit. In LatAm, the penetration of premium brands has increased 3-4 percentage points above mainstream and value brands, while the number of micro and independent brewers has also increased (from a low base).
When it comes to launching a premium product, brands can only do so much, as real premiumization is actually determined by the customer according to Asahi Europe’s CEO Hector Gorosabel.
“Premiumization is an outcome rather than an objective,” Gorosabel said. “It’s what happens when you’re at your best; when you can bring unique and interesting stories to the customer. Ultimately, premiumization depends on whether your customer or consumer thinks you deserve it. You might think you deserve it because the cost of making it was higher, but ultimately you've got to deserve it in the eyes of the customer.”1
In an age of premiumization and shift in customer preferences, brewers and brands must recognize that traditional plans for growth might not align with their target audience or cultural trends. To overcome such challenges, companies are focusing on new strategies including increasing portfolio and channel complexity, reducing the lead times of product innovation and understanding consumer needs and aspirations.
Source: Bloomberg Intelligence Primer
In an effort to build an expanded portfolio and provide more choice for consumers globally, Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) solidified its leadership position in global beer volumes with the acquisition of SABMiller in 2015-16. Following the acquisition, ABI had around 27% market share globally in 2016 followed by Heineken with 9.7% and China Resources with 6.1%. Although still facing distribution headwinds after their acquisition of Brasil Kirin, Heineken has enjoyed above average accelerated sales in the latter half of 2017 and in early 2018. Keeping a solid expansion pace and consolidating its position, the company grew double digits in Q4 2017 and Q1 2018. At the same time, total beer demand (based on taxable shipments) declined 3.6% industrywide in the first two quarters of 2018. While demand fell about 9% for Asahi and Sapporo and about 1% for Suntory, Kirin rose 3.3%.
As the beer market continues to become more saturated, focusing on value over volume and understanding the fast-changing consumer is more important than ever. In addition to testing different strategies and releasing diverse products, several leading brands have begun experimenting with news forms of technology, such as using artificial intelligence to help brewers efficiently test different taste combinations. While beer may be one of the oldest and most popular drinks in the world, even tradition needs innovation.
The future of the beer market: “You can’t talk about growth without talking about premiumization,” 15-May-2017, by Rachel Arthur.
This communication is provided for information purposes only. Please read J.P. Morgan research reports related to its contents for more information, including important disclosures. JPMorgan Chase & Co. or its affiliates and/or subsidiaries (collectively, J.P. Morgan) normally make a market and trade as principal in securities, other financial products and other asset classes that may be discussed in this communication.
This communication has been prepared based upon information, including market prices, data and other information, from sources believed to be reliable, but J.P. Morgan does not warrant its completeness or accuracy except with respect to any disclosures relative to J.P. Morgan and/or its affiliates and an analyst's involvement with any company (or security, other financial product or other asset class) that may be the subject of this communication. Any opinions and estimates constitute our judgment as of the date of this material and are subject to change without notice. Past performance is not indicative of future results. This communication is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument. J.P. Morgan Research does not provide individually tailored investment advice. Any opinions and recommendations herein do not take into account individual client circumstances, objectives, or needs and are not intended as recommendations of particular securities, financial instruments or strategies to particular clients. You must make your own independent decisions regarding any securities, financial instruments or strategies mentioned or related to the information herein. Periodic updates may be provided on companies, issuers or industries based on specific developments or announcements, market conditions or any other publicly available information. However, J.P. Morgan may be restricted from updating information contained in this communication for regulatory or other reasons. Clients should contact analysts and execute transactions through a J.P. Morgan subsidiary or affiliate in their home jurisdiction unless governing law permits otherwise.
This communication may not be redistributed or retransmitted, in whole or in part, or in any form or manner, without the express written consent of J.P. Morgan. Any unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited. Receipt and review of this information constitutes your agreement not to redistribute or retransmit the contents and information contained in this communication without first obtaining express permission from an authorized officer of J.P. Morgan.