In The Black

The Grocer reports bad tidings for Diageo, makers of the “black liquidation with the froth on the top”. Sales of their star brand Guinness have fallen by nearly 10 million pints in the last year. That breaks down into a 15.8% fall for Guinness Draught and a 5% slump in Guinness Original sales.

Now, Guinness is a market leader and is a very heavily advertised brand. Indeed their esoteric adverts, while baffling the public, have long been the darling of the advertising industry. But times change and sales have been in decline for some time now.

Experts attribute various reasons for the fall-off in sales. Their traditional market is shrinking: there is a general shift towards lighter drinks and the growing premium bottle market has made inroads into their customer base.

Guinness is also under increasing pressure from the supermarket’s own brand Stouts. This is a difficult front to fight on as Guinness has traditionally been priced as a premium product. However, it seems that with Tesco’s Simply Stout available for £1.33 compared to £1.89 for Guinness, customers are voting with their wallet.

However, as you might expect, Diageo are not ready to throw the towel in just yet. They claim some of the fall in sales is down to customers switching pack sizes and will address the issue with a greater emphasis on “pack differentiation”. They also aim to hit back with that most traditional of weapons: advertising-£33 million of it, to be exact.

Most experts seem to think that Guinness is in irreversible, if gradual, decline. Whether the might of Diageo can prove them wrong, we will have to wait and see.


Gareth Jones said…
I don't think they'll be too worried in the wake of their takeover of United Spirits. Guinness, however big as a beer brand, is small fry compared to opening up the markets that gets them into.
Tandleman said…
Of course they could always change Guinness from being tasteless cardboardy crap back to a drink with roast and hops.

Fat chance.
py0 said…
"there is a general shift towards lighter drinks"

I thought I read somewhere that stout and porter sales were significantly up?

Actually I think the shift towards darker drinks has inadvertently damaged the brand, in the UK at least. My local Tescos has gone from having 1 bottle of stout or porter available a year ago to having 10 different varieties when I went in their yesterday evening, including some really good examples from Meantime, Fullers, St Peters and Dorothy Goodbody.

Once people try one of these other stouts, they realise that Guinness is actually quite a poor example of its genre, like Fosters sales falling once people try a few Czech Pilsners and see the difference.
RedNev said…
Guinness has virtually annexed St Patrick's Day with some very good advertising & promotion. It's usually the case nowadays that the better the advertising, the worse the beer.
Sue said…
I'd suspect that the flourishing Irish Craft Breweries may also have contributed - now people realise thay can get a pint that actually has taste and body for the same price as this. I found it depressing, while sitting in Messrs Maguire with a sampler tray of their 7 wonderful brews, to watch the convoy of Guinness tankers going to and from the docks.

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