In the 2023 National Liquor News Industry Leaders Forum, Lion discusses how continued investment in its enviable portfolio of iconic beer and craft spirit brands is driving the best outcomes for customers and their consumers.

After stepping into the Managing Director role at Lion at the start of 2022, David Smith has enjoyed seeing how the industry has navigated adversity to achieve some great outcomes.

“It was a privilege to join Lion in 2022 – a business with an incredibly proud history, filled with great people and wonderful brands,” Smith said.

“Once again, I have been reminded of the unique role our industry plays in bringing people together – whether it be over a beer at their local or celebrations at home with family and friends, something we certainly do not take for granted after the last few years.”

Smith describes the past couple of years of the pandemic as bringing “an unprecedented change in consumer behaviour”, with 2022 specifically giving Lion the opportunity to carefully think about its portfolio of iconic brands.

“We continued to invest behind our major trademarks with new marketing campaigns for XXXX, James Squire, Hahn and Furphy launching last year, and grown our leading craft beer business, now with Byron Bay-based Stone & Wood in the fold,” he said.

“Our customers are telling us that our portfolio is exactly what they’re looking for in a market of consumers increasingly looking for more premium options. With a focus on fantastic marketing and investment behind our core trademarks, we are confident we will continue to see that momentum build in the year ahead.”

Building brands in 2023

When thinking about the focus for the year ahead, Smith said: “Across all parts of Lion, we are tapping into consumer tastes and trends to deliver a truly fantastic portfolio for our customers that meets the changing needs of consumers.”

To build its brands, increase the attractiveness of the beer category and help its customers’ businesses grow, Lion will be working closely with partners across the industry and investing significantly into media and shopper programs. This will apply to both existing brands and new products, with Smith hinting at some exciting innovations in the pipeline.

He said: “These new products are squarely focused on growing the beer category and feedback from our customers so far has been excellent so watch this space!”

Importantly, Lion’s activity will continue to be in line with the top consumer trends in 2023. One key trend that Smith identified was the consumer movement to make more mindful choices, whether that’s drinking less but drinking higher quality products, or opting for no and low alcohol and lower carb products. Hahn will be tapping into this trend after its relaunch and pack refresh in late 2022, with new advertising campaign – Hahn: How Good.

Meanwhile the non-alcoholic beer side of the portfolio, which includes XXXX Zero, James Squire Zero and Heineken Zero, will also see strong support from Lion, with the company making significant capital investment in its production capability at the Tooheys brewery.

A progressive sustainability agenda

Sustainability is incredibly important to Lion, being the country’s first large-scale carbon neutral brewer. This value stems across all parts of the business, but also outside of it, with Lion working with its supply chain and customers to minimise the overall footprint of its products (Scope 3 emissions).

“One of the initiatives I’m most proud of is the work we did with the Australian Climate Leaders Coalition (CLC), which saw Lion map the full carbon footprint of an FMCG product (bottled XXXX Gold) based on actual and accurate data direct from our value chain. We then worked with our value chain partners to identify decarbonisation initiatives to reduce this footprint – a positive and important step towards achieving our goal of a net zero value chain by 2050,” Smith said.

Find more from the 2023 National Liquor News Industry Leaders Forum here.

Brydie Allen

Brydie Allen is the Editor of National Liquor News. She has been with Food and Beverage Media since 2019, when she joined the company as a journalist across National Liquor News, Bars & Clubs, The...

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