Off-trade sales managing director Mark Gerken said: "Historically there has been a constant battle among suppliers and retailers for share, but we don't actually grow total business. That is a very short-term strategy - so how can we grow the whole category?"
Head of customer marketing Craig Clarkson added: "We have strong evidence that increasing the number of promotions in the category doesn't increase the number of shoppers in the category. We need to think of different ways to do it."
S&N has pinpointed six areas it will work on in a bid to grow the category: speciality beers and foreign imports such as Kronenbourg Blanc, Baltika and new Grimbergen; female drinkers;
lower-alcohol drinks such as Jacques cider; food matching - including pairing up with a food manufacturer and promoting chilling in stores by introducing fridge packs and glassware and associating products such as Bulmers Original with ice.
S&N is running a number of trials related to the initiative. It has created a category layout plan in which drinks are merchandised according to the type of customers who buy them and the occasion they are for. The design is to be trialled in Sainsbury's soon after Christmas.
Below-zero chillers are on trial in MBL, and another innovation, which the company hopes to unveil next summer, is being trialled in Makro.
The new plans were created after S&N carried out extensive consumer research with a number of organisations, including TNS and Nielsen.
Gerken said: "A larger and larger percentage of our turnover is being put into innovation, and that will throw up things that hopefully we have never done before."
S&N launched Belgian Trappist ale Grimbergen in Tesco this summer, and plans to roll it out to other retailers. The beer comes in Blonde and Double versions and is owned by S&N's Belgian arm Alken-Maes. The brewer is planning to launch more products from its international branches in the future.