Innovation vital for Heineken
02:27 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Beer sales in European bars and restaurants have fallen sharply in recent years

Heineken recorded a 4.6% drop in sales in 2010

The Dutch brewer has a new strategy it hopes will appeal to European consumers

CNN  — 

As European consumers shift their drinking habits away from bars and into their homes, industry giants such as Heineken are looking at ways to adapt.

Beer sales in bars and restaurants - traditionally the primary outlets for the Dutch brewer’s products - have fallen sharply across the continent in recent years. As a result, Heineken recorded a 4.6% drop in sales in 2010, down to €7.89 billion ($11.3 billion).

Didier Debrosse, president of Heineken’s Western Europe division, is now looking for way to reflect consumer’s changing needs as the company looks to arrest the drop.

He has helped to implement a strategy he hopes will align the brewing giant with the demands of modern European consumers.

A key component of the transition so far has seen Heineken move away from its traditional focus on bars and restaurants as primary points of sale.

A series of partnerships and promotions with supermarkets such as France’s Carrefour have been established - providing direct access to the home consumer market.

Initial results of the link up are promising. Heineken recorded sales 3% higher at Carrefour stores than at any other outlet in the last year. The key is products which are easier to consume at home, such as a can to drink on the terrace, or a bottle to have with a meal. The aim, Debrosse said, is “to cover all the consumer moments.”

Debrosse is careful, however to maintain a long term definition of success. “It is a journey,” he says. “It takes time to build a brand.”

CNN’s Eoghan Macguire contributed to this report