Rewards and Risks for the Drinks Industry in the New Europe

Anthony Greener
United Distillers

The title of this paper is a narrow subject, I know, but I want to tackle a subject I know something about, and in doing so make a few points that have wider relevance – relevance in fact to a range of businesses in different fields. Let me start by highlighting a broad point that I believe is quite often overlooked.

In all the talk about opportunities opened up by the sheer scale of the new Europe I believe some of us are missing the parallel development among consumers, across Europe, of a trend towards increasingly high quality consumption.

We hear much of the Single Market being almost as large in population terms as the USA and Japan combined – a formidable fact. But what is as formidable, and for the luxury goods marketer even more important, is the trend towards premium product, and therefore higher margin product. It is a trend that is apparent in many categories, from clothes to food to consumer durables, and most certainly among alcoholic beverages, both spirits and beer, where people may be drinking less but are certainly drinking better quality.