The rise of the English lager

Whilst beer sales by value have returned to pre-covid levels, the sector has seen some dramatic changes in purchasing habits, none more so than with lager which dominates the beer market, accounting for an estimated 75% of total value sales (Mintel). There has been a massive shift from standard lager (down by almost 30% in three years) whilst premium lager is up by nearly 50% over the same period. The lager category has been experiencing a steady decline in volume for over a decade, which has been compensated for by increases in value – innovation and premiumisation have been key to maintaining lager’s domination of the beer sector. By comparison, growth in craft beer, another contender for the high-end of the beer sector, is still growing at a pace (+9% in 2022).

For beer drinkers, the continuing trend is less for more – volumes (and ABVs) are down, whilst premiumisation is the order of the day. Branding has been key to leveraging high-end positionings with lagers and craft beers leading the way and presentation has been key to delivering added value across the drinking experience. According to Mintel ‘using the ‘right’ glassware, for example branded or matched to the style of beer, is held to make the drinking experience more enjoyable by 47% of beer consumers’. We eat and drink with our eyes…

One of the winners in the move towards the high-end in the beer sector is English lager and this has been experiencing significant growth. The opportunity is to position this emerging style as a craft lager, appealing to both the more experimental traditional lager drinker and the craft drinker alike. Camden Hells Lager tops the charts in whole craft beer category with over 100% growth last year, according to CGA. Whilst other notable risers are Innis & Gunn Lager and BrewDog Lost Lager.

As craft brewers continue their drive to win over the mainstream beer drinker, English lager has become a key part of their portfolio – you can’t buck a market this size.

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We have four decades of experience and expertise in the beer sector, and have created exceptionally effective and transformational brands in the lager category.

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Sulis Lager, NPD and brand creation – “WPA Pinfold has played a pivotal role in helping us to refresh and reinvigorate our brand- the result of which is a significant increase in sales.”

HogStar, rebrand – “The redesign has introduced more refreshment values, created a distinct brand personality and improved shelf standout – sales have been significantly boosted.”

Hydes, NPD and brand creation – “Dock 4 has set a new direction for the Brewery and has replaced the competition on bar.”

Kirkstall Pilsner, brand creation – “Our strong brand and image has been essential to our success, enabling us to significantly grow our business and retain our premium positioning.”

Flack’s, NPD and brand creation – “A game changer, the new brand is absolutely right and gives us confidence for the future.”