Brewers are counting on football more than ever

On Sunday, millions of football fans across the world will watch English clubs Chelsea and Manchester City face off in the 96th FA Community Shield. While the match venue Wembley Stadium is expected to be packed full, bars worldwide will also welcome beer-drinking lovers of the game in clusters that they have not experienced since the World Cup ended.

Beer sales have often grown during football tournaments, and owners of alcoholic brands have noticed, dedicating millions to marketing in football. Heineken sponsors the Champions League, Carlsberg has sponsored the Euros and is currently the official beer of English club Liverpool, while Budweiser sponsored the last world cup. In Africa, Guinness has been closely associated with football. Its popular ‘Made of More’ and ‘Made of Black’ campaigns resonate strongly with local examples and local variations, giving it a strong following. The latest “Made of Black” campaign in Kenya centres on the Kenyan Premier League and FIFA accredited female referee Tabitha Wambui and her amazing story so far. The result: sales in Africa continue to climb in 2018. While beer grew by 5% across the continent, Guinness itself grew by 7%.

Beer + Football
For more than a century, people have sipped or gulped different brews of beer while watching football games. Although, no one really knows when their courtship started, the beer-football marriage seems made in heaven. For brewers, having your brand welcomed in countries with huge football audience is key to growth. With more than 80 percent of its population interested in football and 65 percent participating, Nigeria is the fourth largest Guinness market in the world (after Britain, Ireland and the US). Even in Egypt where about 90 percent of the population are Muslims, 47.5 million liters of its popular Stellar beer were sold in 2016. This is not surprising, as 50% of Egyptians participate in football. South Africa, which also has one of the world’s highest number of people participating in football, accounts for 34 percent of Africa’s formal beer market.

“Nearly two hundred years on from its first arrival, Guinness resonates more than ever with the African consumer,” said John O’ Keeffe Africa President for Diageo. “Part of its appeal is its close association with football and its locally tailored Made of Black campaigns. There is no doubt that Guinness may be closely linked to rugby in Europe, but in Africa it’s the natural partner to football. This year Guinness has been part and parcel of the English Premier League (watched across the continent) and of course the World Cup,” O’ Keefe noted.

Growth Factor
With football recognised as an avenue for growth, more brewers are getting involved in football-related sponsorship in Africa, as they look to tap the continent’s $13 billion beer market, the fastest growing in the world.

However, with incomes squeezed and competition rising, brands with a range of beers for different classes of consumers have been performing well. In South Africa, AB InBev’s (formerly SABMiller) beer revenues grew 6% in FY17. Similarly, East African Breweries’s (EABL) 4.57 percent rise in revenue to Sh73.45 billion ($731.8 million) was driven by its bottled beer business in Kenya and Tanzania. To continue to enjoy the benefits of the beer-football marriage, brewers will have to remain conscious of the purchasing power of the consumers, who would always want a drink while they watch their favourite teams play, but would not break the bank to do so.

Although the sale of premium brands remain the goal of all brewers, cheaper brews that resonate well with consumers will ensure the growth currently being experienced continues.

Thank Your Brewer, Thank Your Bartender
Every first Friday in August, the world celebrates the International Beer Day. It reminds beer lovers of how some people have devoted their lives to providing them with the enormous variety of beers available today.

In teaching people how to celebrate the International Beer Day (IBD), internationalbeerday.com published a guide. Celebrants were advised to “drink good beer with good friends”. In many parts of Europe and the Americas, bars will be full tonight as lovers of the alcoholic drink celebrate. However, in Africa where the IBD celebration only happens in South Africa, bar owners will have to wait will Sunday when more beer sales will be recorded than we have seen since July 15.