Britain’s Biggest Alcohol Brands 2018: who are this year’s winners?

Image for post on Britain's Biggest Alcohol Brands 2018 by food & drinks social media agency Clarity Comms

Britain’s Biggest Alcohol Brands 2018: who are this year’s winners?

It’s that time of year again as the Grocer publishes its annual list of Britain’s biggest alcohol brands. The drinks sector continues to face a range of challenges from innovation (e.g. craft beer & spirits), price competition from the supermarkets and consumer trends. So how has the industry fared in the last 12 months? Have Britain’s biggest alcohol brands enjoyed a strong year? Our post looks at the data on Britain’s biggest alcohol brands 2018.

Britain’s biggest alcohol brands 2018: top dogs

On paper the sector appears to have fared well. The value of the top 100 alcohol brands reached £9.4 billion up 5.6% from last year. Category wise, the cider brands in the list saw value grow by 21% (v 2017) with beer up 4.7%. The value of the spirits in the list was static whilst the wines in the list saw value dip by 0.5%. Fortunes were mixed for the top 10 as shown in the table below.

Table showing the top 10 alcohol brands in the UK as part of post by food, drinks and hospitality social media agency Clarity Comms

Stella maintained it’s lead as the leading alcohol brand with growth of 1.5%. The biggest winner in the top 10 was Gordon’s. The brand saw growth of almost 30% off the back of it’s new pink gin. It’s core gin also benefited from rising consumer interest in the category driven by craft distillers. Budweiser also saw healthy growth boosted by the launch of Bud Light. Conversely, Fosters saw a dip in sales losing £47.9 million in value. Hardys and Strongbow also suffered over the last 12 months.

This year’s winners

2017/8 was a good year for the majority of the brands on the list with 63 seeing growth over the last 12 months. 15 brands saw growth of over 20% with the ten fastest growing brands as follows:

The 10 fastest growing alcohol brands in the UK. Part of post by social media agency Clarity Comms on Britain's Biggest Alcohol Brands 2018

The star performer was Guinness’ Hop House 13 lager. Three other beer brands also had a great year: Estrella Damm and Birra Moretti. Tanquerary, Grennall’s and Gordon’s benefited from both innovation and premiumisation in the spirits category. Thatcher’s saw the biggest gain of any cider brand with Scottish craft brewer BrewDog continuing its relentless march.

It’s been a bruising year for some

As usual the list of Britain’s biggest alcohol brands contains losers as well as the winners. The same trends that are driving growth for some brands are hitting others. So who has lost ground in 2018?

Table of brands in decline from this year's list of Britain's biggest alcohol brands. Post by social media agency Clarity Comms

Topping the list of this year’s brands in decline is Bulmers. Its woes derive from intensive competition from premium fruit cider brand Kopparberg and listings challenges. Others such as  Blossom Hill and Glen’s casualties of consumers shifting towards more premium products. Lager stalwarts Fosters & Carlsberg are seeing this as well. Carlsberg in particular have suffered for several years. Will it’s revised brand ID stem further decline? In the current market consumers might be forming longer-term attachment to Estrella Damm & Hop House 13.

Britain’s biggest alcohol brands: trading up

Overall it’s been a good year for many of Britain’s biggest alcohol brands. The big trend has been premiumisation with consumers trading up for better quality. It’s not a new development: craft beer and spirits have been on the march for years. However, it’s changing behaviour at the top. After years of price cutting, big brands are seeing the benefit of behaving like craft brands: new flavour variants, ranges and extensions add consumers and margin.

The challenge for the craft brands is obvious: will enough be able to grow and thrive? The last 5+ years have seen an explosion in craft spirits. Yet not all of these will survive particularly if Britain’s biggest alcohol brands continue to chase premium consumers. The same effect is likely to happen with craft beer too. BrewDog is proving to be the big winner in UK craft beer.