The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

The Shout NZ Leaders Forum series 2023 – Craig Baldie, Lion

After a tough few years for New Zealand as a whole, we asked executives in the Kiwi alcoholic beverage industry share their insights and predictions for the year ahead. This series will include seven columns in the coming weeks, beginning with…

Craig Baldie, Country Director for Lion.

“Our industry is a vibrant and innovative sector that I’m proud to be part of. We know that our lives have changed markedly with digital connectedness and a greater focus on wellbeing and consumers are seeking to make more informed decisions guided by their values, whether it’s about choosing where to live and work, or what brand of beer to drink.

In 2023, I think we’ll see more creativity, innovation and meaning than ever before to meet these consumer needs.

One consumer trend that isn’t going anywhere is mindful choice. We drink around 25% less than we did in the ’80s and the majority of us drink moderately and responsibly.

Unsurprisingly, there has been an explosion of low- and no-alcohol products and the alcohol-free category, while still small, has grown 63% since a year ago (by volume). The low-carb and no-sugar categories, which are largely beer and RTDs, respectively, have also both grown over 30% in the past year.

We are also seeing a rise in premium offerings, especially in the spirits category, and expect exciting things in the ready-to-drink cocktail space.

Lastly, I think on-premise will entice us out of our homes with great experiences and events. We are social beings and after a tough few years, we’re ready to fill our cups.

With the upcoming reviews of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act, we expect some important discussions about the way our industry operates. We will proactively take part in these consultations and advocate for the important role the industry plays in championing a positive drinking culture.

Changes should be evidence-based and proven to reduce harm. Examples of focused, evidence-based work by our sector is the industry-funded SMASHED theatre-based alcohol education programme run in high schools by Life Education Trust and Lion’s online education program Alcohol&Me, which has reached close to 350,000 Kiwis since it launched in 2015.

Advertising and sponsorship is also a focus of the review. Something people outside the industry wouldn’t necessarily be aware of is the strict Advertising Code we voluntarily adhere to and the high bar of social responsibility we apply to ensure marketing is aimed at adults and promotes responsible consumption. While advertising spend has increased over the past few decades, per capita consumption has fallen markedly. Marketing is focused on brand choice not on volume.

Hospitality is an integral part of our communities and economy; we have many great operators but it’s under huge pressure with staff shortages and rising costs. Adding to this, our weakening economy will influence consumer spending in some way.”

Did you know?

There are six ways you can catch up with The Shout NZ?

Our print magazine – new issue out soon! Subscribe here.
Online, updated daily with its own unique content and breaking news.
Our weekly newsletter – free to your inbox! Subscribe here.
Our digital magazines – the latest issues are online now.
We are also on Facebook and Instagram!