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Shoppers shun offers when buying bitter

British shoppers are more interested in taste when buying bitter, but promotions are the primary influence for lager drinkers, and a key cue for wine consumers.

According to the latest edition of the Wilson Drinks Report, 30% of adults in the UK who buy bitter/ale in the retail sector said that taste is the most important factor in their purchasing habits, while 21% admitted that it was the brand that was the leading influence.

As for special offers, only 17% of the sample of more than 700 adults in the UK said this was the first thing they look for when deciding which bitter to buy.

The results are in sharp contrast to lager drinkers, who, the research has shown, look for the promotion first, with 35% of those surveyed making their decision on the basis of discounts alone.

Similarly, wine buyers choose labels according to colour but then offers, with 18% of shoppers admitting that the promotion was the most important influence in what they bought, while, notably, brand was the least relevant, with just 3% of those surveyed saying this was the first thing they look for.

Speaking to the drinks business, Tim Wilson, managing director of the Wilson Drinks Report said, “We have three different results for bitter, lager and wine: special offers dominate decision making in lager; in wine, shoppers choose colour first – but look for offers after that – but it is the taste and brand that are at the top for bitter.”

He also said that the research had highlighted “a big overlap” between the red wine and bitter buyer, meaning there could be a possibility to emphasise taste and brand in the red wine category to prevent shoppers buying on price alone.

“Unfortunately,” Wilson said, “wine is still flogged on offers and shoppers are used to buying wine like lager… it is a huge challenge to migrate away from that.”

Commenting on the differences within the beer category between bitter and lager drinkers’ shopping habits, he added, “If I was a brewer in the niche ale sector then I would concentrate on making margins and selling at full price – you don’t need to go down the pricing route.”

He also observed that both bitter and red wine buyers, “tend to be middle-aged men, who are more discerning and buy according to taste and brand, rather than what’s on offer.”

The Wilson Drinks Report is a research-based business report focused on the UK drinks market.

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