As the Head of Insights at Greene King and Belhaven Breweries, my role is pretty easy to define: I’m here to help continually improve the performance of our brewing and brands business through the use of insight.

That means using insight to delivering longer-term category strategy, as well as short- and medium-term opportunities to drive category growth for both Greene King and Belhaven Breweries and our customers.

In its simplest form we’re asking: who’s doing what, when and why?


In today’s information-rich world it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the masses of customer, market and category data that are available – but that’s precisely where I and my team come in.

It’s our job to find, interpret and analyse the most useful data and turn it into useful information, then turn that into actionable insight.

Our role, in a nutshell, is to drive better decision making within Greene King and Belhaven and to also to give our customers the insights they need to make better-informed decisions, helping them to grow their footfall, sales and profits.

Value for Venues provides a very effective channel for us to share these insights with you and, over the coming months and years, we aim to provide you with a wide range of advice and suggestions that could help you grow your business – and all of it based on solid, reliable, relevant insight.


One thing that sets the work of my Category Insights team apart is that we operate very much in the real world of pubs, clubs and restaurants.

Yes, we take ‘big picture’ insights like macroeconomic trends and global consumption shifts, but the work that we do focuses very much on  helping our colleagues and customers make quicker, better decisions out in the real commercial world where they live and work.

What does this look like in practice? Well, we take market and category data and we also try to understand the factors that are driving things like distribution and rate of sale.

More importantly, we endeavour to understand the kinds of on-trade guests who actually drive these trends, the nature of their drinking occasions and the triggers and barriers to them choosing one product or category over another.

We explore the needs that different products must meet to get chosen by consumers and we find ways to help guide people to make choices in-venue that suit both the drinker and the venue operator. 


We identified five key drivers of category growth, broken down into ‘grow the core’ and ‘deliver more’.

This simple ‘road map’ allows Greene King, Belhaven and its customers to focus their decision-making and optimise the effectiveness of the actions they take in the real commercial world when it comes to growing their ale business.

In future articles, we will explore this road map in more detail. For now, I hope that it is clear how effective and important insight can be in our everyday working lives.

We will continue to explore these issues further, as well as tackling mission-critical topics like how to create the right range and how to encourage people to drink ale.


To help illustrate how the work done by the Category Insights team drives decision-making in the real world, let’s take a look at the example of the ale category, a category that’s close to our hearts.

We have been working, in recent times, on a project to help unlock category growth in ale. For this project we worked hand in hand with leading data and insight agencies and also commissioned bespoke research projects.

The result? Over time we gained an in-depth understanding of occasions, motivations, path to purchase and barriers and triggers.

We discovered that, despite the many challenges facing venues and consumers, ale remains a fundamental category within the trade.

We established that:

  • ale accounts for more than one in every five beers sold in pubs
  • ale drinkers spend more per visit, visit venues more frequently and heavily influence the destination of a group.

We also found that ale drives exploration among drinkers and that cask ale is considered the “freshly baked bread” of the beer category.

If there are any insight-related questions you’d like answered in the meantime, or any real-world challenges you think we might be able to help with, please email to get in touch.