Drug stores drink up beer

The drug store channel has had strong sales in the beer category despite lackluster industry performance. Dollar sales for the beer category in drug were up nearly 6% for the year to date ended Oct. 30, 2011, according to SymphonyIRI Group data. Food and convenience store beer sales were up only 0.6% and 2%, respectively.

Beer volume sales have been declining; the category has dipped 2% this year, according to Eric Shephard, executive editor of Beer Marketer’s Insights. “Unemployment has hit the mainstream beer drinker harder than craft beer or wine drinkers,” Shephard said. He added that marketing has not been as effective as in recent years.

Light beer sales, which account for more than half of all beer sales, according to SymphonyIRI, continue to decline. Shephard said that Anheuser-Busch’s new version of Bud Light Platinum, slated for introduction in first quarter 2012, should have some impact on the category.

After a slide in sales, imports are up slightly. “Crown has had a good year with Modelo Especial and new larger bottle packaging of Corona. The Victoria intro has also gone well,” Shephard said.

Anheuser-Busch’s Stella Artois and Molson Coors’ Dos Equis brands also have had strong sales this year, and Shephard said he sees an uptick in Heineken sales.

While the economy has put a damper on category growth, the environment has been good for private-label beer sales. “A new wave of proprietary and private-label beer brands has emerged and are gaining traction in both the sub-premium and craft segments,” said Dan Wandel, SVP beverage alcohol client solutions at SymphonyIRI.

Wandel said that 2011 has been a record year for private-label beer sales, based on both case and dollar sales. “Private label had grabbed a 1.4 share of total beer case sales and 0.9 share of total beer dollar sales in total U.S. drug stores year-to-date,” he said.

 

The article above is part of the DSN Category Review Series. For the complete Beverages Buy-In Report, including extensive charts, data and more analysis, click here.

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