Has Covid-19 changed the brewery sector forever?

What makes a great beer? The quality of the hops and the aroma they give. The balance of a smooth and frothy texture. The golden bubbles as the liquid is poured from the tap? 

Aficionados on the many beer rating apps and websites use these characteristics and many more to point peers in the direction of their favourite brews. But judging by the expenditure of the world’s biggest beer companies, the key in fact lies in the marketing. Over the last four years, Anheuser Busch Inbev (EBR: ABI), Heineken (AMS: HEIA) and Carlsberg ( CPH: CARL) – the three biggest breweries in the world – have spent an average of 11.2 per cent of their revenues on marketing and branding. For most of their beers, the recipe has not changed for decades.

Storytelling with the help of a powerful marketing campaign is arguably even more important at the smaller breweries. The storming success of Brewdog – which, prior to the pandemic was the UK’s fastest growing food or drink company – has been largely attributed to its unique advertising; Andy Wood, chief executive at Suffolk brewery Adnams acknowledges that the brand is “a big proportion of what people love”. Although, of course, “the product has to live up to expectations.”

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