The news is just too good not to share.
Craft beer is exploding, even as overall beer sales – and particularly the mass-market industrial sales are stagnant or falling.
News: Craft Beer Sales Expands
News: Craft Sales Continue to Soar
News: Number of Breweries at 125 Year High
As we’ve mentioned in the past, this is likely part of an overall trend for “local” and towards quality that’s expressed itself in many areas of the American market over the past few years. Other examples include the growth of farmers markets, organic foods, cooking shows (and the celebrity chefs), gourmet coffee, and fresh dining.
None of these issues are to be “fixed” with marketing dollars, which has been the preferred weapon of industrial brewers since the post-Prohibition and post-war consolidation. In fact, the big brewers continue to align to use market share and distribution power as a weapon against craft competitors, who now amount to roughly 6% of the overall U.S. market – in other words, plenty of room to grow. What remains to be seen, in the information age, is whether consumers will continue to seek out local alternatives as a choice, rather than settle for what’s most readily available.
As I’ve pointed out, in having this discussion with others, the modern young adult turning age 21 realizes that the “best” beer is most likely local or craft…rather than a generation ago, when young adults considered a “premium” light lager, such as Michelob or Heineken, to represent the finest example of the fermented arts. This realization is a battle lost for the industry giants, at least for now. Consumers are becoming less appreciative of the consistency the big “commodity beers” represent, in favor of the flavor, romanticism and creativity found in their non-advertising, word-of-mouth competitors.
And the beer wars continue…