Mr. Windau, in your experience, has the attitude of German consumers towards the topic of nutrition, food and drink changed over the last ten years? If so, in what way?
We have actually noticed some quite considerable shifts. Germans are evidently setting ever more store by making conscious lifestyle choices and paying attention to a healthy diet. What they choose to drink is particularly important to consumers. Products with additional benefits such as being isotonic or containing vitamins fit in perfectly with this concept. It is therefore not surprising that there is a greater demand from consumers for information on the products and their ingredients which they are consuming. Another trend we have observed is the desire for variety. Germans are increasingly experimental and wish to sample different and unusual flavor combinations. Their wish is our command. We monitor all trends on an ongoing basis through market research. Innovation is a key strategic pillar for us and we have significantly expanded our portfolio over the past few years.
Have you noticed a difference between men and women with regard to which of your products they choose? What are the most obvious ones?
In general it can be said that men are more likely to select Pilsners while women prefer lighter varieties such as shandies. But an increasing number of women also enjoy drinking Pils and our non-alcoholic beers and beer-based mixed drinks are becoming more popular with men, particularly those who are sporty and active, because they are isotonic and contain added vitamins.
Our survey revealed that the attitude towards food varied depending on the age of the consumer. While younger people like to experiment with different flavors, older consumers pay particular attention to freshness and the health benefits of food and drink. Would you say this is down to age or is it a generational disparity? Will the preferences of the next older generation be different again?
I definitely think this situation is as a result of the demographic developments in Germany. People are becoming older and they want to enjoy the second half of their lives for as long and as comfortably as possible. For this, an active and mindful lifestyle is essential, which includes a healthy and balanced diet. It remains to be seen whether the young people of today continue to be so experimental as they become older, but I think that it might be the case. In general, it can be said that the wishes and needs of consumers change very quickly, especially when it comes to food and drink. In my opinion, it is therefore not possible to make an accurate prediction for the next generation.
To conclude, I would like to ask you a more personal question. Given the choice, would you prefer to spend an evening in a Michelin star restaurant or cooking a meal together with friends? And what would you most like to be eating and drinking?
I enjoy both, depending on the occasion and the mood. Going for a meal in an exceptional restaurant with my family is always very special. But the great company of my friends and the enjoyment of cooking together is also important to me. I am pretty much open to anything when it comes to food, and this again depends on the occasion and season. However, when it comes to drinks I am pretty inflexible: it always has to be beer. I don't mind if it is non-alcoholic, but it does of course have to be one from our range. It contains such a wonderful variety of delicious beers, which perfectly complement many different dishes. I strongly recommend trying König Pilsener with a fish dish, and a Bitburger goes brilliantly with a cheese platter, while Köstritzer black lager is divine with dessert. You might be surprised at the flavors and aromas that unfold.
Thank you for your time!