Globally, Guinness has battled to attract young and female consumers with the host of new beers, alcopops and flavored stouts that have flooded the market in recent years. In Ireland, a declining pub trade and an increase in wine consumption is said to be eroding Guinness’s market dominance.
“Nowadays, in relation to alcohol, people are experimenting a lot more,” said a spokesperson for Diagio, the company that distributes the Guinness label. “They are tailoring what they are drinking according to the occasion. Wine consumption has increased, more people are drinking at home.”
She admitted that new products on the market “have had a negative impact,” on Guinness sales.
“In Ireland, in recent years, Guinness volumes have definitely declined, but that reflects a decline in the market generally. The smoking ban has also exacerbated this.”
Said Oliver Hughes, director of the Dublin-based Porterhouse Pub and Brewery group: “The Irish alcohol market is changing. Its no longer about swilling back big quantities of bland liquid; people want more taste from what they drink. Look at how the wine market is increasing in Ireland.”
In honor of this year’s St. Patrick’s celebrations, the Porterhouse Brewery produced 40,000 units of Chocolate Truffle Stout, which sold out in less than a week.
In the U.S., Guinness sales are also decreasing as rival stout companies cash in on the younger alcohol consumer market. The Oregon-based brewery Rogue Ales produces a range of stouts using flavors like chocolate, oatmeal and oysters. Sales have increased steadily since the company opened in 1989.
“Our strategy is to be what Guinness is not,” according to Rogue Ales owner Jack Joyce. “Our products are for people who are looking for variety. We want to appeal to all ages and sexes.”
In recent years, Diagio has invested in global advertising campaigns, repackaging of Guinness draught bottles and cans and GAA sponsorship in Ireland in an attempt to broaden the stout’s appeal.
In February 2004, the Sunday Tribune newspaper reported that Diagio was experimenting with new varieties of Guinness, including low-carbohydrate and low-alcohol stouts. Diagio said it had no plans to launch a new Guinness variety.
Past attempts to launch new varieties of Guinness have failed, most notably Guinness Light in 1979 and Breo, a light stout that was withdrawn in 2000 after less than a year on the market.