An eclectic approach to category management has made the off-trade bottled ale market the only section of the ale category showing any growth, with volume sales climbing 7% in 2007, a Nielsen report has revealed.
"Supermarkets are ignoring standard category management disciplines by offering a wide range of regionals and now microbrewery beers, rather than concentrating on the top five sellers, directly helping this growth," Nielsen consultant Graham Page said, in his UK Drinks, Cask Ale and On-Trade Trends Report.
"The market is up 7%, so although growth has fallen back a little from 8% two years ago and double digit a few years ago, it is because the market is much bigger.
"If supermarkets were to concentrate on the top five, using usual category management techniques, there could be a lot of brand casualties. These products give choice, variety and other price points. To a degree they allow supermarkets to argue that they give smaller players access to market, rather than concentrating on only national and international power brands, and give consumers great choice."
Meanwhile, the cask ale market - which Page points out is the only category not sold in supermarkets - is struggling, with volumes down 1.3% in 2007.
Top 10 bottled ales
Newcastle Brown Ale
Old Speckled Hen
Theakston Old Peculier
Source: Nielsen off-trade 50cl PBAs volume % change year to Dec 29 2007