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#ConsumerCorner: Carlsberg make Britvic an offer they can't refuse

By Beth Colmer
09 July 2024
Consumer Industries
Food & Drink/FMCG
Consumer Campaigns & B2B

The deal is done - after two rejections, Carlsberg finally made Britvic an offer they couldn’t refuse. Dating back to the 1930s when an Essex chemist began producing soft drinks, Britvic - the parent company behind Robinsons and Tango - is now owned by the Danish brewing giant for the tidy sum of £3.3bn.

But is this just a business transaction, or a major mark of cultural change?

In an interview with The Sun last night, Carlsberg Group chief executive Jacob Aarup-Andersen hinted that the acquisition had been necessary, partly because of Gen Z’s attitudinal shift towards alcohol: “Beer will still be our core product, but we are seeing a huge structural trend towards low and no-alcoholic drinks and that is a growth opportunity for us.”

In fact, a survey by ad firm Red Brick Road found that 36% of under-25s are now non-drinkers, while Ocado revealed that sales of low and no-alcohol spirits have risen by 20% since the start of the Euros. 

According to the study, the biggest boozers are Generation X — born between 1965 and 1980 — with 63% drinking regularly. 

This was followed by Baby Boomers — born between 1946 and 1964 — at 62%.

Of Millennials — born between '81 and '96 — 51% were regular drinkers.

Some Gen Z Brits do drink, but 72% claim they 'fear' boozing and 32% say they drink less alcohol in comparison to last year, the survey found.

Hangovers, emotional distress, the soaring cost of a night out and unflattering photos of them drunk appearing on social media are some of the biggest concerns under-25s have about booze. 

Account Executive, Rebecca Togher (26) says, “there’s been a huge shift amongst my friends in the last few years. One friend (26) got drunk at a wedding last year and couldn’t remember a thing which completely put her off drinking. It also costs a bomb to drink in London.”

Similarly, Senior Account Executive and non-drinker Naz Zandi (24) cited the cost of living as a key part of her tee-totalism. “People can’t afford to buy 10 shots anymore. It’s also really dangerous. My whole team and I were spiked on a night out a few years ago. Nothing disastrous happened to any of us but that scared me enough to stop completely and I’ve never really looked back.”

A decade ago fizzy drinks companies – including Britvic – realised they needed to shift towards healthier options.

It seems in 2024 it’s the alcohol firms that realise they too need to move with the (healthier) times to avoid a headache for shareholders that will make a hangover look mild by comparison.