10+1 trends of Russian beer market 2015-2017Despite of the moderately negative prognoses for 2017, the beer market can be stabilized soon. Yet the years of the negative dynamics have resulted in marketing being limited just to “optimization” and the art of balancing between price and volumes. Bigger supermarkets share means stronger trade marketing. These processes are connected to the majority of the described trends. At the same time, the federal brands inflation leads to searching for new tastes, sales channels and contact formats that expand the product range and diversify the beer market, but do not imply a substantial volume increase. Let us enumerate and further discuss the ten trends of the beer market we can see in 2015-2017 as well as the major event of 2017.
Beer market of Ukraine 2017In the first half of 2017, the Ukrainian beer market goes on decreasing slowly. Yet, the companies manage to compensate their lost volumes by raising prices and improving the sales structures. This results in the mid price market segment reduction while the sales of premium brands are rising. These processes are connected to position strengthening of companies Carlsberg Group and Oasis and the market share reduction of Obolon. Most of the novelties by the market leaders belong to craft or hard lemon categories.
Beer market of Russia 2016: PET goes to draftThe beer market of Russia was warmed up by the hot summer, but the preparation for large volume PET prohibition has already impacted it negatively. The year was successful for Efes, MBC and regional producers; Carlsberg’s positions were virtually stable but AB InBev and Heineken lost a part of market share having focused on the sales profitability. The dynamics of big brands was determined by how much the companies were willing to keep the prices down or by their promotional activity. In this context the economy segment of the beer market and sales of inexpensive draft beer were increasing. The premium segment started shrinking due to license brands migrating to the mainstream segment.
Beer market of Vietnam: “Young tiger”Vietnam is one of the few big beer markets that continue to grow steadily. The beer popularity results from its low price, street consumption culture, and social motives. The outlooks of beer market as well as the Vietnamese economy inspire optimism, though the country is heavily dependent on export of goods. The state regulation can be called liberal, but the key risk for brewers is harbored in intensive rising of excise. Within TOP-4 there are two leaders, Sabeco and Heineken that grow at the fastest rates. The first company effectively employs its capacities, the second one focuses on marketing technologies. Almost 80% of the market belongs to century-old brands, yet the middle class and the youth are shifting their interest toward international premium that is growing taking share from the mainstream.
China is getting a taste for craft beers, but not for craft brewing
Chinese people joke that the local lagers — stuff like Tsingtao or Snow — could easily pass for water. Some people even drink it to rehydrate after getting drunk on other alcohol. But tastes here are starting to change.
That's on display at a pint-sized bar Shanghai bar owned by Jackie Zhao. He's filled the cozy, wood-paneled space with over 100 varieties of hard-to-find craft beers from around the world.
It's actually more a bottle shop than a bar, and it's unlike any other I’ve seen in China. There’s no loud music and no smoking. Jackie calls it a “beer nest,” a place to taste and experience new flavors. And he takes his job as teacher very seriously.
He tells customers that they need to have a conversation with him: “You must tell me your taste. Beer is a sweet-bitter balance; you need to tell me you like bitter, you like sweet," he explains. He wants his customers to appreciate different styles of beers and find their favorites.
“If they say, ‘oh whatever,’ I say 'No, no whatever,'" Zhao says. "You pay money. If I choose the wrong beer, you’re not happy.” Eventually, he says, they take his recommendation and end up telling him it's really good beer.
That wasn't the case in 2003, when Zhao, whose day job is importing Western food, brought in some of China’s first craft beers from abroad. No one would buy them.
“It was too early,” he says. People didn’t really understand what it was. “The beer tasted totally different, and the price was very high. If you do something too early you lose money. [If] you want to change people’s taste, it takes time.”
When he opened the bar four years later, the timing was better. It could only seat four people, but the beers were so popular that the crowd overflowed onto the sidewalk. He even had to move down the street to accommodate one crucial furnishing: a toilet.
Craft beer is now a fast growing trend in China, and not just in Shanghai and Beijing but also smaller cities around the country. Along with wine, travel and cars, imported beer is a luxury buy for locals looking to show off their good taste.
The Shanghai International Beer Fest, held this fall, drew 40,000 people ready to try a wide variety of different beers. Gao Meng, a 26-year-old who came with her husband and son, was sampling a lager from Brooklyn Brewery.
“I really don’t like normal beer," she says, but this one is different. "I like this taste. It has very heavy, very good taste.”
Local microbreweries and home brewing associations are also popping up all over China. They came to the Beer Fest to show off brews with Chinese characteristics. There were beers brewed with everything from Sichuan peppercorns to purple rice to Tibetan barley. Some were flavored with tiny fragrant guihua blossoms or jasmine tea. There was even a roasted sweet potato beer that reminds me of a pumpkin ale.
So is making great beer in China getting as easy as finding great beer?
“No. I can tell you 100 percent no,” says Gao Yan, the brewmaster who wrote the book on beer in China — a Chinese language manual for homebrewers.
His Baby IPA is one of the few local craft brews to be bottled in China, but his brewery has twice been shut down by the government. Why? Because of the crazy red tape and import restrictions that make brewing here frustrating at best. Brewers tell stories of smuggling in American hops in their luggage. One local brewery actually bottles its beer in the US and then ships it back to China to sell.
So why keep at it? “[For the] challenge,” Gao Yan says. "Challenge everything, see how much I can push this, see how much people can understand what I’m doing. See how much my bad behavior the government can tolerate. Challenge everyone. I even challenge my customers.”
He and and some of the other local breweries are even trying to export to the US. So one day in the not too distant future, when you’re looking for a Chinese brew, you may be able to skip over the Tsingtao and buy, say, a Panda Brew, Master Gao or Slow Boat instead.
24 Dec. 2015