Mark Sandys, Global Head of Beer, Baileys and Smirnoff on global trends in beer this International Stout Day

As people around the world celebrate International Stout Day, we caught up with Mark Sandys to discuss global trends in beer.


Mark Sandys

Guinness reported 5% net sales growth in our full year results (July 2018). What do you think is driving this performance?

“It’s been a great year for Guinness, and we’ve seen some big trends driving growth in global beer. In emerging markets we see fast growth, urbanisation and demographic changes and in developed markets we see an ongoing trend towards premiumisation – with consumers opting for beers that have more character and flavour. Guinness is well positioned to capitalise on these trends, with our large footprint in the fast growing markets of Africa and our unique position sitting between mainstream beer and craft.

This is reflected in the performance of some of our biggest markets in F18. In GB, the largest market for Guinness worldwide, sales grew 8% due to a relentless focus on great quality and the growth of Hop House 13, particularly in the summer months. In Africa Guinness has a deep history – first arriving in Africa in 1827 –and it remains strongly embedded in the culture and one of the most popular beers on the continent. For example in Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa and the fastest growing region for beer in the world – Guinness had an outstanding year growing sales +24% and growing share.”

In a world where craft beer is so popular, how has Guinness ensured it stays relevant?

“The growth of craft beer has been driven by a trend towards more authenticity, more stories and real products made by real people in places of clear provenance. This trend has played out across many categories in food and drink but is particularly beneficial to Guinness which has such a strong heritage and provenance in Dublin. In the past few years we have opened the gates of our brewery in Dublin so that more people can meet the brewers and that we collaborate with local craft beer players. Most importantly, we’ve made it possible for people to come to our experimental bar – the Open Gate Brewery – and taste whatever has been brewed that week to help us see what beers will be popular in the future.”

This year we opened the Open Gate brewery and Barrel House in Maryland. Can you tell us a bit more about what this means for beer innovation in North America?  

“The opening of the Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House in Baltimore was a huge step for Guinness in America. It is the first brewery we have opening in the US for over 60 years and, more importantly, the chance for us to bring together two great beer cultures: the creativity of the American beer scene – led in Baltimore by two outstanding brewers in Peter Wiens & Hollie Stephenson, and also 259 years of brewing history and knowledge from Ireland. We will have new small batch beers on tap in the brewery every week – when we find beers that consumers love we will make them in big batches and sell them all over America. This has worked brilliantly for us in Ireland and it is has also helped to make a big company small again – connecting brewers, salespeople and marketers together over a beer.”

Guinness is famous for creative advertising – what is your favourite Guinness advert and why?

“There are so many to choose from – I have a copy of the Guinness Book of Advertising on my desk and I was consulting it just this week to look back over some of the great photography that has been used in our poster advertising in the past as inspiration for the future. However if I had to pick one it would be Sapeurs – the story of the society of the elegant persons of the Congo. This ad launched in 2014 and it is a classic Guinness ad: a story of Power, Goodness & Communion, a story that is different from any other beer ad. Four years on we are still running it and when we measure the effectiveness of the ad the results are still going up. We see a direct link between our most creative ads also being our most effective as they are so much more memorable.”