Taking it easy: Heineken says experimentation and ‘easy-drinking beers’ fast-growing Asia trends
According to Heineken APAC Marketing Transformation Director Sarah Maddock, ‘easy-drinking beers’ have garnered an increasing consumer base in Asia over the past several years, and the firms expects to increase this base in 2022.
“One of the fast growing areas [in beer] is easy-drinking beers, which are also typically lower in alcohol as these can accompany food well especially on occasions where consumers are looking for an easy choice,” Maddock told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“One of our easy drinking beers, Heineken Silver, has gained a lot of fans since we launched in markets like Vietnam, China and Taiwan over the past two years [based on its design as] a smooth and easy to drink beer with a crisp subtle finish.
“We are excited to introduce Heineken Silver to many more consumers across the region in 2022.”
She highlighted how such consumer behaviour is similarly driving the zero-alcohol beer market, a market where the firm’s Heineken 0.0 has seen rising share across the region.
“There has been a real shift in consumer behaviour driving the growth of the zero-alcohol beer market, [where] consumers are more health conscious and often make deliberate lifestyle choices whereby they look at alternatives to alcohol,” she said.
“Consumers are looking for choices that suit all their needs, and while they may want a beer they don’t always want the alcohol - Heineken 0.0 offers consumers a great tasting beer with zero-alcohol, that is low in calories to fit into their healthier lifestyles.
“As zero-alcohol drinks continue to gain share across the region, we expect to see continued growth of both the segment and Heineken 0.0.”
The firm also highlighted a need to constantly innovate in order to keep up with rapidly evolving consumer tastes as well as a much higher desire to experiment compared to before, not least because many are willing to pay more for these drinking experiences.
“Consumer palates are evolving and expanding beyond just the traditional, with tastes diversifying from sweeter and less bitter to richer and more complex, providing experiences for which they are willing to pay a premium,” said Maddock.
“As this trend gathers pace, we see consumers seeking wider variety as they look to experiment and try new drinks - One of the ways we’ve responded to this through innovation is by leveraging our brewing expertise to brew products that resonate with the needs of the target audience.
“[For instance], we created Tiger Crystal to be a lighter, lower bitterness, smooth lager beer, allowing Tiger to cater to an emerging demographic that is savvy and enjoys a refreshing drink across different social occasions.
“We also launched premium wheat beer brand Edelweiss in Singapore and Malaysia last year, which is a contemporary twist on a 375-year-old wheat beer recipe, containing a unique blend of mountain herbs including sage, coriander and elderflower. Wheat beer in general has been growing at a 39% CAGR over th past three years, and [banking on this] we will be expanding Edelweiss across the region in 2022.”
Outlook for 2022
In addition to innovating according to these trends, Heineken has also had to react to an overall ‘paradigm shift’ within the beer industry, and believes that e-commerce is going to continue to play a crucial role for the sector moving forward.
“[These] trends are changing the shape of the category, and the pandemic has also accelerated a paradigm shift in the way we purchase and consume beer across the region,” said Maddock.
“With lockdowns and safety management measures now part of the new normal, we have [strongly supported] on-Trade channels but also developed more solutions to better meet consumer needs in Off-Trade and e-commerce.
“As authorities strike a balance between endemic living and implementing measures to protect vulnerable groups, we expect this trend of Off-Trade and e-commerce channel growth to continue, and for new consumer behaviour that emerged during COVID-19 to endure.”