Q&A: David Cunningham

This week, Cesium Group – in association with the drinks business – sat down with David Cunningham, programme director for There’s a Beer for That.

David Cunningham - colour (2)

David Cunningham, programme director, There’s a Beer for That

The campaign – funded and supported by Britain’s Beer Alliance of global, regional and craft brewers – seeks to promote education in the beer category among consumers, the on-trade and the off-trade by demonstrating the quality, diversity and versatility of beer.

David spoke to Paul Haslam, managing director of drinks headhunter Cesium Group, to talk about the collective effort to reignite Britain’s love of beer. See below for the full transcript.

The interview comes ahead of the drinks business‘ coverage of the latest Cesium Thought Leadership event on the latest trends in the beer industry.

With input coming from a panel of the UK’s leading figures in the beer trade, the piece will appear in the February edition of the magazine.

Paul: Could you give me an overview of Britain’s Beer Alliance as an organisation and its key objectives?

David: Britain’s Beer Alliance was set up beginning in 2014. It is a broad industry alliance, as the name suggests, made up of global, regional and craft brewers as well as industry bodies including SIBA [Society of Independent Brewers], British Beer and Pub Association, Cask Marque, as well as Pub Cos – big and small.

As that description shows, the industry is fragmented and diverse and the purpose behind Britain’s Beer Alliance was exactly this: it was a way of uniting the industry behind a single campaign and a shared goal to reignite Britain’s love of beer grow the whole category.

But it was also driven by consumer insight. When I first came on board, we undertook some research to discover what the barriers to growth in beer were. One of the insights that came from this was that consumers not only wanted to know who was behind the campaign, but also that they found it very motivating to know that the industry was getting together to promote the whole beer category.

Britain`s Beer Alliance plays two roles. It helps unite the industry and it clearly demonstrates that the whole industry is behind this campaign.

We currently have 85 members, including global, regional & independent brewers, BBPA, SIBA, Pub Cos. All in all, the membership represents about 90% of the beer industry, so it’s a pretty wide group of people behind this campaign.

Paul: What were the key objectives that you set out to achieve?

David: Our objective is to reignite Britain’s love of beer. Although beer is still the nation’s favourite drink, there is a lot competition from other drink categories and we identified that the overall category was stagnating. We recognised that Britain was falling a little bit out of love with beer and the category needed to be reinvigorated We needed to get people to think differently about beer. We needed to communicate different messages about beer and adopt a new body language and approach to how we communicated with people.

We undertook extensive research – north & south with old and young consumers, male and female, beer experts and beer novices and we consistently found that there were three key barriers to growth:

The first was that beer was seen as lower quality than other alcoholic drinks, specifically wine and cider. People didn’t understand the natural ingredients that went into beer, the goodness of beer and the fact that the majority of beer is brewed in the UK.

The second barrier to growth was that beer was seen to be a bit homogenous and bland. There wasn’t a good understanding of the huge variety of styles, flavours and tastes.

The third barrier was that beer was perceived overall as being narrower than other alcoholic drinks – narrower in terms of the people that were drinking and enjoying beer and narrower in terms of suitable occasions for beer – it was very much associated with sport, after work and lads’ night out – all of which are fantastic opportunities, but beer wasn’t seen to be a drink that was appealing beyond those occasions.

Having identified these barriers, we decided that the campaign needed to address them head-on. We decided that we needed to show people that actually there’s more to beer than they currently thought – more to how it’s made; the natural ingredients, the quality and goodness of beer and the craft of brewing. There’s more to the variety of styles, flavours, and tastes, and more occasions where beer could be enjoyed and by more people.

‘There’s more to beer’ became our core proposition. That led to the creative idea that whoever you are – male or female, old or young and whatever the occasion, big or small, outdoors or indoors, on-trade or off-trade and whatever the food, there’s a type of beer that’s perfect for you and that moment. This naturally led us to There’s A Beer For That. It became a great encapsulation of the strategy that was very easy to understand and a nice strapline that we believed people would remember and use. This led to the creation of There’s a Beer for That as our industry campaign.

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One Response to “Q&A: David Cunningham”

  1. Posy says:

    Great article, but I found the picture at the end quite funny talking about widening the appeal and message of beer, surely you should consider widening the decision makers at the table in the picture – all mid-aged white men!

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