New products face an uphill struggle
Thirdly, the huge variety of products makes for a high level of complexity. Approximately 970,000 articles are currently listed in Germany alone, with 120,000 new ones being added each year. However, no more than 10 per cent of these innovations can survive on the market because the average German consumer buys just 2,000 different products each year – which equates to a tiny 0.2 per cent of all the items available.
There is plenty of choice in the beer segment too: with almost 1,300 breweries and some 5,000 brands, the beer market in Germany is made up of more small-scale operations than anywhere else in the world. “It takes time to explore the vast range of German beers – 13.5 years, to be precise,” says Reiner Schmitz, Beer Category Manager at METRO Cash & Carry. “That’s how long it would take if you tried a different kind every day.”
Variety is on the increase within the segment too as the Germans’ traditional drink has been given a modern makeover in recent years. Now, customers can buy anything from beer mixed drinks and non-alcoholic malt beverages to glutenfree varieties and strong-tasting artisan craft beers. Demand for alcohol-free beers in particular remains brisk, as Josef Westermeier, Director of Marketing and Sales at private brewery Erdinger Weißbräu, confirms: “Our non-alcoholic beer ‘Erdinger Alkoholfrei’, which has been on the market since 2001, is a sales driver to this day. I think this shows that you don’t need constant innovations – you need successful ones. And anything I can use to get new customers into stores is a success.”