Thursday, December 1, 2011

Japanese Beer Trends & Marketing

Here's an entertaining look at beer trends in Japan. A slide show about the production and consumption of beer (by brand, age, and more) up to 2010. On view are the market shares as well as the marketing strategies of the four major producers: Kirin, Asahi, Suntory, and Sapporo.

Some highlights:

- Tokyoites consumed the most beer -- 87.4 bottles (55.4 liters) -- per person
   in the nation.
- In 2008, Japan ranked 39th in the world for beer consumption
   (at  47.9 liters per person), way behind the world leader,
   the Czech Republic (149.9 liters)
- Everyday drinking increases with consistently with age, from 14.3% of
   people in their 20s to 53.4% of people in their 60s
- Market shares by producer:
1) Beer: Asahi 49.6%
              Kirin 27.3%
              Sapporo 15.4%
              Suntory 7.6%

2) Low-malt beer (happoshu):
              Kirin 61.2%
              Asahi 25.2%
              Suntory 9.4%
              Sapporo 4.3%

3) No-malt beer (daisan biiru):
              Kirin 42.8%
              Suntory 22.6%
              Asahi 20.1%
              Sapporo 14.6%

Kirin sponsors the Japanese national soccer team and organizes the Kirin Cup (international soccer tournament).
Asahi attempts to connect with music fans though sponsoring concerts. Also sponsors the World Baseball Classic.
Suntory has its own classical music hall and uses top rock stars in its advertising. Also sponsors golf tournaments and has its own rugby team.
Sapporo uses a variety of famous athletes and celebrities in both television and Internet ad campaigns. Also sponsors the Hakone Ekiden (relay race).


  1. Looking at the beer market stats, my simple math skills tell me that the craft beer market has a 0.1% market share -- only up from here!

    Also, I guess I wasn't paying attention, but had no clue that Asahi had nearly a 50% market share. Wow...

  2. Actually, the data from that slide show is about from two-three years ago.

    According to Bryan Baird, the craft beer market share in Japan in 2009 was about 0.26%.

  3. You love love beer and a lot of things you know about beer company.

    I like to drink kirin beer.

    The tastes are really nice.

    see you later.


  4. Chizuru,

    Yeah, I do like beer a lot. Maybe too much...
    I especially like craft beer from small breweries
    (地ビール). There are many in Japan these days, and I love to find beer that I've never had before.

  5. Further to what Red pointed out, imports are also conspicuously missing from the data. That's what I love about stats like these. You can read them as "market share among the Big 4" rather than overall market share. What I'd really like to see is a comprehensive market share analysis, including imports, including other Japanese big brewers, like Orion. Instead we always get a skewed (and screwed) view. Sigh.

  6. Chris,

    True... and true.
    Statistics: lies, damn lies, and stat....

    I wonder, though, whether a comprehensive analysis would really be all that different from what these numbers show. Maybe a percentage point here and there. The big four do hold sway pretty much over the market -- just not the market that we care about.

  7. Hi,
    have you tried the last "Special Edition Asahi" ( ?
    I find it better than the awful Super Dry

  8. No, not yet -- The one with the patriotic looking flag design. But my beer geek friend (who knows more about beer than anyone I know) just gave it a pretty good rating on I think I'll pick up some soon.