BBC News published a story today about innovation in the UK beer market. The UK brewing industry has been on the decline for the past few years, and with a slowdown in the economy pushing consumers toward more affordable brands, the high-end brands have been struggling to innovate without alienating the customers that have remained loyal.
The article discusses some of the more successful innovation ideas (pineapple, anyone?) and some that are still on the shelf, waiting for an audience, including one depicted in a disturbing “frankenbeer” image of what happens when lager and food coloring combine.
One firm that has been successful in innovation is Guinness, which patented the original widget that makes canned beer taste more like draft. Despite a general slowdown in the market, Guinness has managed a 2% gain in sales from last year. The company is testing Guinness Red, which will be lighter in color and taste than regular Guinness, and is aimed at consumers who like the brand but only drink it on rare occasions.
It’s an interesting story – and a great example of the need for innovation in a mature market.