Research Outline

Repositioning Canadian Beer


Stem the decline in consumption and drive purchase of a craft/wheat beer made in Canada, for Canadians. This should be done via providing information leading to an insight for new creative territory/positioning, as well as an eventual brand strategy/tone of voice/personality. This new creative insight should reposition the brand which is currently perceived as traditional/"boring", and "safe".

The report should drive this goal by providing three things. First, the report should provide case studies of beer brands that have changed their positioning to have a positive impact on sales. Additional attention should be paid to case studies that demonstrate a quirky/out of the box campaign that cuts through. Second, the report should provide information that answers the question as to why people drink beer and why they drink wheat beer in particular. Third, the report should analyze what messaging best connects with 19- to 35-year-old male beer drinkers.

Early Findings

  • Beer consumption has been struggling globally. While consumption rose by 0.8% in 2018, this was the first increase in four years. More relevant to our report, this small increase was driven by countries like Mexico, while North America continued its decline.
  • While production of Canadian beer rose in 2019, national beer sales fell- driven partly by a shift to international beer, but also because of a decline in absolute consumption. Specifically, domestic production rose by 4.2% (total 22.5m hectoliters or hL), but national beer sales dropped by 3% to 21.4m hL. Of the latter, domestic beer sales suffered more- it dropped by 3.9% vs. 2018, while import beer sales rose by 1.5%. While Canadians (of legal drinking age) consumed about 71.2 liters of beer in 2019, this was a 4.6% decline from 2018.
  • Consumption differs by province. For example, Newfoundland consumed 87.4 liters of beer per capita and was at the top of the list. Quebec consumed 80.5, and P.E.I. consumed 76.7 liters. Ontario had the lowest per capita consumption across all of Canada, consuming only 66.1 liters per capita.
  • There is an interesting split in terms of income. Those with an income from $25,000-$34,999 want to see more flavored beers, while those with an income of $100,000 and above want to see more craft and local beers. This may have implications in terms of positioning, as higher incomes are usually also correlated with higher education and older consumers.
  • Among convenience-store shoppers, at least, a clue in why consumers choose beer can be found in the fact that variety is key for purchase. For those that go to a convenience store at least once a month (which would cover many Canadians), 63.3% say they enjoy trying different beers vs. generally sticking to the same brand. That's higher among urban consumers.
  • There's also an interest in trying new things. 55.3% of consumers say they want to see a larger variety or selection of craft beers in convenience stores. 46.3% want to see more imported beers, and only 41.9% want to see more domestic beers. However,
  • This interest in new things extends beyond the beer category. Prodegemr conducted a survey showing that among their respondents (aged 21-54), 44% said they'd be more likely to buy spiked seltzer vs. beer. This was higher among women, among whom 55% would choose spiked seltzer. 36% of the total were equally likely to purchase either beverage, with only 20% being more likely to choose beer.

Generally, early findings show that the decline in beer consumption is not a problem limited to Canada. While there is little information available that breaks down the drinking demographic by age, it seems that drinkers, especially lower-income (and therefore potentially younger) ones, are looking for more exciting or novel forms of beer. They are looking at craft beer but also expanding their consideration set beyond beer to formats like spiked seltzer. The following recommendations derive from these early findings.