The Future of Beer Sales


In examining alcoholic beverage trends at convenience stores, it is apparent millennial consumers are driving many of the taste and brand choices in the beer category.

Convenience Store News recently conducted an interview with Todd Camassar, commercial marketing director, off-premise channel and customer development, for Heineken USA about the importance of millennial and how c-stores can sell more to this demographic.

CSNews: How does Heineken describe and segment young legal-drinking-age consumers?

Camassar: Today’s millennial/multicultural consumer base is active, astute and wants the best. They are growing exponentially in size and influencing American culture faster than any other group, from the food and beverages we consume to music, sports, film, fashion and more. Their influence is impacting the variety of beer products offered and the way these products are marketed.

CSNews: What are the overall attitudes and values of millennial consumers when it comes to consuming alcoholic beverages?

Camassar: The millennial/multicultural consumer is experimental and eager to expand their other beverage repertoire by sampling different offerings and expanded flavor profiles. They equate cost with quality and, as they trade up with the improving economy, they are more likely to shop the upscale segment where quality, variety and image play a key role.

These consumers are estimated to account for 70 percent of future beer category growth. More than any other LDA+ (legal drinking age-plus) consumer segment, millennials are connected 24/7 and sort through information at the speed of light on their phones, tablets and computers. To influence these consumers, we need to cut through the clutter with messaging that resonates and reaches them where they are most active: online.

At Heineken, our unique approach to reaching these consumers is through invented beer marketing — aspirational and experiential campaigns, with a heavy emphasis in the digital medium. In 2015, we are delivering breakthrough marketing and retail programming that connects emotionally with the millennial and multicultural consumer at multiple touchpoints along their path to purchase (traditional, digital and social media, in-store merchandising, special events and sponsorships). We are also focused on innovation to provide millennial consumers with the variety they seek. Our Beers of Mexico, Newcastle Best of Britain and Strongbow hard cider variety packs give consumers the opportunity to try new flavors with a single purchase.

CSNews: How does millennials’ frequency of purchasing compare with other demographic groups?

Camassar: Convenience shoppers purchase and drink beer most frequently — 30 percent drink beer daily and 22 percent purchase beer daily. They are the most likely to plan which specific brand/pack they will purchase and of those brand planners, they are the least likely to change to a different brand once in-store. These shoppers shop the fastest, shop the fewest products and are least likely to examine a product before buying.

CSNews: How often do millennials shop in the c-store channel for alcoholic beverages vs. other channels?

Camassar: Of all major retail channels, the convenience channel attracts the most millennial beer shoppers — 41 percent of c-store beer shoppers are millennials vs. 28 percent in grocery, 35 percent in liquor and 23 percent in the club channel, according to Spectra research. The convenience channel offers tremendous upside for upscale import brands such as Heineken, Dos Equis, Tecate and Strongbow and is therefore a top priority for us. Only 3 percent of convenience shoppers shop craft. Upscale imports and mainstream brands are especially popular in this channel. Our strategy in convenience is to drive our single-serve can and six-pack distribution through targeted, account-specific promotions that leverage c-store shopper insights.

CSNews: What motivates millennials to make a purchase? Is it a planned purchase or impulse? What triggers impulse purchasing?

Camassar: Millennial convenience shoppers typically shop for immediate gratification — 80 percent of c-store shoppers consume the product within one hour of purchase, according to Envirosell shopper research. The occasions they shop for most often include relaxing at home, casual gatherings and winding down after work. The beer brand/pack they will purchase is either determined prior to entering the store or made very quickly at the point-of-purchase. The average time spent shopping the beer section is 11 seconds. The c-store channel has the fewest number of shoppers shopping on impulse compared to the other retail channels, according to our research.

To influence the millennial c-store shopper, it is critical to connect with them prior to purchase with messaging that resonates and reaches them online and again at the point-of-purchase. Through digital shopper marketing, we are able to set clear priorities and improve how we target and influence the shopper’s purchase decision before they enter the store. In 2015, we are significantly increasing our investment in digital to touch shoppers at every point along their path to purchase — pre-shop, in-store and post-shop. In-store, the cooler is center stage. Branded coolers and high-impact point-of-sale are the quickest and most effective tools to impact the shopper’s decision.

CSNews: How do price and convenience factor into purchase decisions?

Camassar: For the convenience store shopper, it’s all about fast and easy — go in, buy beer, get out. In-store, brands need to have visual impact and be easy to find. Only 39 percent of convenience beer shoppers are price sensitive, which indicates these consumers are willing to pay more for the convenience they seek.

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