South Africa is among the largest consumers of alcohol in the world. Statista data from 2019 indicates that the countries with the highest per capita alcohol consumption include the Czech Republic, Latvia, and the Republic of Moldova, but previous data from the World Health Organization (2016) shows that those in South Africa drink heavily. Tunisians occupy the first place in the list of alcoholic beverages, as they consume the largest percentage of alcohol in the world, 35 liters (drinkers only), while South Africa consumes only 30 liters per person.
The latest mapping data, a nationally representative survey of more than 20,000 South Africans, available on Eighty20’s data portal, shows that about half of all South Africans drank some type of alcohol in the past month. Men are the largest consumers of alcohol, with 62% drinking alcohol weekly or monthly, compared to 36% of women.
In terms of gender breakdown by category, men consume 72% of the beer, 70% of the brandy, and 66% of the whiskey drunk in South Australia.
About 58% of women prefer champagne/sparkling wine and flavored liqueurs, 51% prefer bottled wine and 49% bottled wine.
In 2013, the best selling beer was Castle Lager, followed by Castle Lite, Carling Black Label, Heineken and Hansa Pilsener. Ten years later, 2023 sees Carling in first place, Other Brands (which include a massive influx of small indie brands and craft beers) in second place, followed by Castle Lite, then Flying Fish and Heineken — with Castle Lager bumping out of the top five, smaller brands gain a foothold in the beer segment. Almost two million South African consumers drink Carling Black Label on any given week.
Andrew Fulton, co-owner of Eighty20, said Flying Fish, which launched a decade ago, is now the third most popular beer brand, ahead of Amstel, Castle Lager and Budweiser — brands that have spent significantly more in terms of advertising, according to Ornico’s 2023 Wine Industry Report.
“Flying Fish is also the most over-indexed beer for women, second only to Black Label with 60% more consumption,” said Fulton.
The top five alcoholic categories for South African men in 2023 are beer, gin, cider (about half of which are Jägermeister) and bottled wine. A decade ago, the top five included whiskey and brandy.
This year, for South Australian women, the top five is the same as the men’s, except flavored liqueurs replace the gin. A decade ago, the top five for women included champagne/sparkling wine and bottled wine.
The flavored alcoholic beverage category has grown significantly, the report said, as evidenced by explosive growth in brands such as Flying Fish and Brutal Fruit, especially among women.
Two-thirds of craft beer drinkers consume craft beer (with Flying Fish and Amstel Radler in the top five choices), while only 2% of traditional beer drinkers consume craft beer, which is likely a reflection of the economy since the latter is a more expensive option.
Only 13% of South Africans who consume beer live in the Western Cape Province, but of those, 37% drink craft beer.
The best brand for alcohol is 4th Street, a sweet wine from Distell, which has 8% alcohol and sells for around R175 for five liters at Pick n Pay and R165 at Shoprite.
Savanna Dry was second, followed by Carling Black Label, Brutal Fruit, and Gordon’s Gin. Gordon’s dominates the gin category, being favored by 41% of all gin drinkers.
Senior and responsible
Over the coming months, it will be interesting to see what impact Heineken’s investment in innovation and targeting a new consumer segment has on mapping data.
The Dutch brewery launched a new product, Silver, last month, which is brewed using an ice-cold delay process at -1°C, allowing more proteins and raw tannins to be filtered out. The result is a crisp, refreshing finish that’s easy to drink. Beer is less bitter, more accessible, and has less alcohol (4%, versus 5% for lager) – aimed at a younger, more health-conscious consumer who wants flavor with less alcohol.
Heineken called the innovation behind Silver “one of the most significant innovations of the past 150 years of the Heineken brand,” which is “set to appeal to a younger audience looking for beers that not only satisfy their taste buds, but also match their desire for moderation and elegance.” DM