A fresh round of drinks: Innovating beyond beer in Eastern Europe

Jonathan Gable
BrainJuicer, Germany
Yvan Goupil
SABMiller, Switzerland

INTRODUCTION

The world loves beer. However, there's something of a problem in a region where beer production and drinking first began. In Europe – home to the world's oldest breweries – beer consumption has actually started to fall. Between 2008 and 2010 beer consumption across Europe fell by 8%. The recent economic chill is, of course, partly to blame. Reduced disposable income is having a negative and direct impact on out of home spending in bars and pubs. Customers are buying in smaller amounts and less often. Romania offers a stark illustration of the problem; it is a country whose beer market has shrunk by 20% since 2008. Before 2008 it had seen impressive growth, but it started to show signs of saturation in 2008, and this, coupled with the economic crisis, meant the beer category stalled. But across Europe, while beer sales are in decline, wine maintains a strong foothold. Many are turning to home-made wine and spirits as alternatives to beer. Sophisticated adult soft drinks are also growing in popularity and are starting to pose a threat to beer.