Healthy Beer: Can you drink beer and enhance your fitness performance?

Can it be true? Has beer somehow been overlooked for all these years as a healthy drink for the fitness conscious? As much as we would love (truly love) to say it’s so, it would, of course, be somewhat irresponsible to make such firm claims. However, recent research suggests that it just may be, in some cases, the post-workout drink every fitness buff has been looking for. Grab a pint — or coffee will do — and let’s dive into this good beer news.

Health focused beers are on the rise, and beyond being a clever marketing gimmick, dietitians and fitness experts say that the ingredients in beer do actually offer some benefits to athletes. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us!

To back up this claim, let’s turn our focus to the German Olympic ski team. At the 2018 Olympic games, the German ski team were the talk of the village. It was not only Olympic golds that the team were knocking back, but also non-alcoholic beer; 3,500 litres of it, which was supplied to the athlete’s village at the Pyeongchang Games by brewery Krombacher. Turns out Krombacher’s beer, an anti-inflammatory, high in antioxidant polyphenols, isotonic non-alcoholic brew, is consumed as a sports drink in Germany.

Athletes push themselves to the limits, and as such can often suffer from afflictions including anxiety, insomnia, indigestion and muscle tension. According to health and diet experts, hops have the power to help treat all of these, plus they’re a great source of vitamins, carbohydrates, protein and fatty oils.


The flood gates have opened

With research allowing for a new spin on our favourite beverage, producers have taken note and the market for “health beer” has exploded, with many adding known functional ingredients to turn the average beer into a healthy alternative for health and fitness enthusiasts.

Craft breweries are popping up across Europe and the US pumping their brews full of superfood ingredients. They are producing electrolyte-infused beer, adding vitamins in beer, and even creating kombucha/beer hybrids that offer probiotic benefits. A number of these are non-alcoholic, as favoured by the German Olympic ski team, but there are just as many hitting the market containing alcohol, which gives consumers all the holistic health benefits, plus the little buzz most expect to come with their brewed beverage.

Within this new health beer development trend, it seems there are three key area’s being carved out; sports, superfood health, gut health.

Many of the sports focused beers are salty. With added sea salt and other minerals, these beers are marketed as isotonic options — a good Gatorade alternative — able to rehydrate and replenish the fluids, salts and minerals lost during exercise. They typically come in at a lower or no abv and the marketing, and names, are heavy on the fitness, sport and team messaging.

The superfood selections, on the other hand, can pack a punch in the abv, with some coming in at up to 9%. These brews are infused with superfoods, with many popular additions including berries, açai, goji, rosehips, chia seeds, flax seed, spelt, and quinoa. Unlike the sports focus, these beers are positioned to the earthy consumer, conscious about their nutrient and vitamin intake.

The kombucha craze has gone mainstream in recent years, with a reach that is ceaseless (projected to be worth $96 Billion by 2020), it’s now coming to a beer near you with breweries picking up the trend and producing kombucha/beer hybrids that offer probiotic benefits and play into the growing demand from consumers for probiotic rich drinks. Playfully named buchabeer, these brews come in around 4% abv and are being touted as the ultimate health beer.


Meeting the changing market

With the younger generations opting to take a more conscious approach to the consumption of alcohol — many opting for low- or no-alcohol options –, fitness focused beer is an interesting angle that could have the power to keep breweries in business; by remaining relevant to the millennial market.

Recently we highlighted the growing trend amongst 18- to 34-year-olds changing their drinking behaviour. In a study conducted by The Portman Group, 10% of consumers in this age range had already shifted their preference to lower abv beverages, and 22% said they were considering following the trend.

With beer suffering the most across the alcohol categories at the hands of this increase in millennial mindfulness, “health beer” may be the untapped avenue for breweries to appease the consciousness of their younger consumers, as well as bringing all the non-drinkers-for-health-reasons back into the fold.


Capturing new consumers

Marketing non-alcoholic beer can be tough. Often seen as the alternative, rather than the main event, the perception of non-alcoholic beer is not traditionally considered sexy and really just an option for those who prefer not to drink but still want to socialise with their alcohol consuming friends. Health beer, on the other hand, is an undeniably appealing alternative that has a brand story all on its own and adds true value to the market it is targeting.

Already in favour with world-class athletes — the Germany Olympic ski team –, the sport focused health beer can capitalise on the star status of sports stars using influencer campaigns to give health beer a strong brand story beyond getting buzzed. Who doesn’t want to imagine a lifestyle on snow-capped mountains, stamina to shred all day long and a legitimate excuse to drink beer?

Superfood and probiotic beers attract the same star power. As the world is becoming increasingly health-conscious, Instagram and influencers promoting vitamin rich or probiotic-infused beers is all the encouragement many need to jump on board, or at least give the alternative brews a shot.

As always, in this shifting market, where lower abv, non-alcoholic and health infused beer options are increasing in popularity and even becoming a high-demand, low supply beverage, it’s critical for brewers to really invest in understanding their audience. Guessing what consumers want can work on occasion, but giving them what you know they already want, works every time.

Consumer insights allow you to observe the demands of your audience, create products to meet their needs, and tailor marketing that is designed to capture their attention. You can then segment your audience to market to those who are most likely to go for the sports option, for example, and send an alternative campaign to those who may be more likely to go for the superfood blend.

Digital marketing is the superpower in marketing these super beers. It’s not only what beverage is being created that must be considered, but also how to connect with these consumers. Health beers cannot be marketed like traditional beers. They call for creativity. Social listening will help to understand what demands need to be addressed, and a digital agency with a specialisation in food and beverage, add in the extra oomph to design creative, relatable and engaging campaigns with the right aesthetic and star power to get your audience interested.

We know food and beverage. We have worked with a number of brands in this industry, developing cutting edge web solutions and digital marketing strategies, designed to engage current customers and reach new audiences.

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