“2023 was another outstanding year for Good Drinks Australia,” Managing Director John Hoedemaker told National Liquor News and Australian Hotelier in a discussion about the year’s achievements for the 2024 Industry Leaders Forums.

Last year, both on- and off-premise, Good Drinks concentrated on becoming the partner of choice and helping to find solutions for its customers. The group maintained solid investment in brand, bolstering its national, key accounts and market activation teams.

With inflation, interest rates and cost of living challenging the whole industry, Hoedemaker owes the company’s success last year to its commitment to offering customers a broad portfolio of high margin products across key category segments, and developing emotional connections to brands that hold value.

And it’s exactly this attitude that led Good Drinks to be named Beer Supplier of the Year at the Liquor Stores Association of Western Australia Awards last October.

“It feels like the team’s commitment to purpose, their sacrifices and their mateship is paying off in spades. Winning [this award] is a wonderful recognition of the calibre of the WA team and leadership, while a fantastic recognition of their effort to create long-term meaningful partnerships with our customers,” said Hoedemaker.

On-premise offering

On-premise, Good Drinks achieved 29 per cent growth in draught beer, ginger beer and cider, and amid strong results for its existing portfolio, Hoedemaker says the group was delighted to broaden its offering.

“Coors and Magners Cider are now part of the Good Drinks offer, and this broadening of our portfolio provides our customers with a complete range of products for their business.

“We bolstered our customer service by investing in a dedicated on-premise key accounts team to support our hybrid sales reps, and we freed up some capital to double down on our commitment to long-term business plans, tap agreements and strategic partnerships with our customers.

“We’re aiming to become the partner of choice on-premise, and it’s very rewarding to work with publicans and groups to help find strategic win-win solutions for their venues.”

One project that came to fruition for Good Drinks last year was its National Call Centre, designed to increase distribution of key brands on-premise in regional areas.

“Our aim is to help deliver our regional customers with the same solutions and uplift in value that we’re currently delivering to metro customers,” says Hoedemaker.

“We’ve helped provide regional customers with better access to our broadening portfolio of category winning brands, along with point-of-sale materials. More importantly, we’re working hard on a range of great activations and pull-through mechanics that the team are excited to bring to life.

“We’ve seen immediate success with strong increase in distributions and market share, and the on-premise team are currently ramping up engagement with the on-premise side of our regional customers’ businesses.”

Off-premise trends

Looking back on 2023, Hoedemaker says a few key trends emerged throughout the year in the liquor retail landscape.

“We could see a consumer need on both sides of the ABV ledger. Some drinkers were searching out higher ABV products packed with flavour, like our recently launched Matso’s Nightlife range.

“On the other side of the ledger, the better-for-you category continued to grow, with a desire for lower ABV products that don’t compromise on flavour. In that space, we’re really proud of what we’ve achieved with Gage Roads Side Track XPA, which comes in at 3.5 per cent, while Gage Roads Yeah Buoy Non-Alc XPA is continuing to gain traction across the country.”

Another highlight for GDA last year was the launch of Rider Lite, a no-carb, low-calorie contemporary lager specifically focused on engaging Gen Z and Millennials in beer.

“It’s the largest and most successful launch that Good Drinks Australia has undertaken, with extraordinary growth in ranging and consumer awareness,” added Hoedemaker.

“The initial response to the brand from consumers and customers has been well above our expectations and we’re excited to see it grow into a major force in the contemporary segment.”

What’s next on-premise?

Good Drinks venues delivered robust results in 2023, making way for the opening of Matso’s Sunshine Coast which Hoedemaker hopes will accelerate the brand on the East Coast.

“We believe that the new Matso’s venue will show people what the brand is all about. They’ll be able to touch it, feel it and experience it – and that will flow through to their drink choices when out and about. It’s a real brand awareness driver, and we look forward to our customers having the flow-on effect of that.”

Beyond its own new opening, Good Drinks will continue to provide venue partners with a growing portfolio of high margin products.

“As always, it’ll be interesting to see what 2024 brings. We expect a few trends to come forward throughout the year, and we can see an increasing consumer demand on several segments of the market,” says Hoedemaker.

“Interestingly, some drinkers are seeking out higher ABV products, while others are looking for better-for-you choices. The great part of our business is we have a broad portfolio that delivers across a number of market sectors.

“With innovative new products like Rider, and the continued unprecedented growth of Matso’s, we’re equipped to cater to the ever-changing tastes of consumers, with more exciting products to come in 2024.

“We’re committing to an increased spend in traditional above the line advertising, in-venue activations and pull through events, while our experiential brand-in-hand events team is in full flight delivering over one million serves of try and converting that into buy.”

The future of retail

Continuing to focus on customer relationships, Hoedemaker says that off-premise Good Drinks’ national expansion will also keep the momentum in 2024.

“Offering the Good Drinks Australia range to new customers and consumers across all the great states and territories of Australia [is] our key focus next year. Our ambition is to have a Good Drink in every fridge in Australia.

“We are achieving this by doubling down on our commitment to provide excellence in customer service and representation across Australia. Our opportunity and commitment are to create long-term business plans and partnerships with our customers that create a win for our retail customers, and value at the shop floor.”

These articles were originally published in the Industry Leaders Forum editions of National Liquor News and Australian Hotelier.

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