With the strong growth of the South African economy in recent years, the main increase in beer sales has been in the premium segment. Now, with recession biting and consumer spending tightening, the trend has slowed. With price-conscious consumers buying fewer premium beers less often, the segment is no longer growing as rapidly as it was.
At the same time, mainstream consumers are becoming more sophisticated and demanding in terms of image, packaging and presentation. They want value, but not at the expense of quality or appearance.
Mainstream brands are the heartland of SABMiller’s South African business and SAB is well placed to respond. As part of its continuing investment in the sector, it recently introduced 430 million new-style returnable bottles for its mainstream beers. The redesigned bottle has improved the image of the mainstream category and lends itself to new labelling technology which enhances the appeal of individual brands. The move has made the mainstream sector even more relevant and compelling to South African consumers.
The main beneficiary has been SAB’s Hansa Pilsener. With its message of ‘affordable aspiration’, the brand has proved a natural choice for consumers looking for premium image at mainstream prices. Its success follows an earlier boost to its sales when a rival, premium brand was unavailable in South Africa for a number of months and Hansa was seen as a near-equivalent. Supported by the well established Castle Lager, Hansa is the growth leader within SAB’s mainstream segment.