Gluten-Free Beer Demonstrates Brands Need Better Shopper Insights To Capitalise On Rise In Demand For Specialist Diets

The UK’s leading category management and shopper marketing specialist says the announcement by AB Inbev that it is launching a gluten-free variant of Stella Artois, the UK’s bestselling alcoholic drinks brand, underlines the importance of suppliers understanding shopper needs and behaviours in greater detail than ever. 

Bridgethorne says the announcement is in line with recent data that showed off-trade sales of gluten-free beer growing 83% in 2017*. More than half of UK households buy gluten-free products throughout the year. The company says this reflects changing shopper behaviour as certain demographics make subtle yet definite changes to not only their diets but also their buying habits.

“As a nation, we are clearly embracing gluten-free products more than we ever have, and not just for essential dietary reasons but also because many people perceive it to be part of a generally healthier diet,” explains Bridgethorne director, John Nevens.

“However, rather than acting on supposition, brands interested in capitalising on the demand for gluten-free products need to commit to achieving a more detailed understanding of what is behind this change in behaviour. They then need to be able to share those insights with retailers in order to collaboratively grow their particular category such that both supplier and retailer benefits as a result.”

Nevens’ thinking is based on the Bridgethorne premise that suppliers need to achieve better understanding of the journey made by both product and shopper to the point where they meet at the point of purchase, bearing in mind this point of purchase may be online as well as in-store.

“A range of factors impact on the shopper journey,” adds Nevens. “These can include dietary beliefs, the influence of other family members who consume but don’t shop for the products, convenience, price etc. Unless suppliers understand what these factors are, relative to their own products, any marketing, activation or even new product development activity will not be as informed as it could be or needs to be. This means budget being committed on the basis of guesswork.”

Effective research, however, is essential in assisting suppliers in securing the insights they need into shopper behaviour and to provide a deep understanding of their particular categories. Bridgethorne’s shopper research team helps clients learn about their shoppers and their shopping journeys; using this insight to increase the chances of converting intent into purchase at the point of sale.


* Source: Kantar Worldpanel