This video How to Enjoy a Bud in Four Easy Steps represents possibly the best response to Budweiser's recent Superbowl ad, simply and brilliantly executed.  Sent to craftbeergut.com from an anonymous source.  

CAUTION: May not be suitable for all viewers.

If you haven't seen Budweiser's now-infamous Superbowl ad, you should see it:
Why did AB Inbev spend so much money just to slam craft beer?  Because the "fussy, dissecting" consumer has spoken (loudly):
Picture

Dear AB Inbev, 

Be afraid.  Be very afraid.

Sincerely,

The Fussy, Dissecting Consumer

Picture
Tanisha Caravello started home brewing in Chicago in 1997, but primarily approaches craft beer from the reverent perspective of an enthusiast and an avid craft beer traveler, beer journalist, and student of all things beer.

In August, 2013, Tanisha quit her job as a molecular geneticist for a large corporation to test Joseph Campbell's theory of following one's bliss.  Now she is the founder and editor of Craft Beer Gut, a Certified Beer Server in the Cicerone Program; the Oregon Chapter Leader for The Pink Boots Society, and a proud member of the  Master Brewers Association of the Americas.

 
 
Picture
I've been stewing on this pervasive question for a long time: How do you market beer to women?  And I've finally come up with my answer. First, let's look at this question on a more general, global scale.

Marketing used to be simple.  There were tangible, quantifiable demographics you could cling to as an advertiser: men, women, Asian, African-American, White, poor, middle-class, young, old, urban and suburban, etc.  You could easily - so the advertisers thought and based their simplified marketing models on - divide these broad categories into general spending habits and go from there.

It's natural that these demographics came about.  Humans have taken our animal instincts (Is it food?  Are you a friend or enemy? Can I mate with you?) a step further - because we can.  Our brains are wired to find patterns and define our own place within those patterns.  We fit ourselves into those demographics, then we become those demographics
.  It becomes a self-fulfilling cycle.  Or so, this is how it used to be.

Rapidly changing technology and the cultural highway of social media are giving us, as individuals, greater power over how we define ourselves, and because of this our definitions of ourselves are becoming more complex and nuanced.  This, combined with ever-increasing, un
controlled population growth has inevitably created diversity within the simple demographic categories - creating further categories, multiple subcategories, and many shades of gray.  One need not be either male or female or gay or straight; one can be a youthful senior or a highly mature, globally-savvy youth; an individual can consist of many different ethnic or racial categories and can even live in two different cultures at the same time.  In short: those demographic categories which advertisers have used for so long have become painfully antiquated. Creaky. Rusted. Falling off the hinges!

Yet, some people still struggle with this.  What made me start thinking about this was a comment that my boss made the other day.  She was being interviewed by a journalist who asked her about marketing beer to women.  My boss' opinion was that you don't really market beer to women - which is part of why craft beer has been so successful in drawing women to it naturally.  For some reason, the journalist continued to push, really wanting an answer, and ended up misquoting my boss just to get one.  Why do people need an answer to a question which is so deeply submerged in an antiquated demographic system?

The truth is - still speaking on a global scale - people have
redefined these demographics to interest categories.  Instead of being defined by your age or your gender or what you look like, you can now define yourself by your interests - and that's a much more powerful marketing tool because an individual's spending habits are more easily predicted by interests - despite the fact that a single "interest category" could easily contain individuals who fit into multiple old-school demographic categories.

So how does one translate this to the beer world?

As an example, you may be able to define "interest categories" as such (this is not a comprehensive list by any means...):

  • People who drink craft beer versus people who drink American adjunct lagers
  • People who prefer strong, bold beers vs. people who prefer lighter, more subtle flavors
  • People who prefer stouts and porters
  • People who prefer IPAs and hoppier beers
  • People who love sour beers
  • People who are into traveling and tasting beers of the world

You get the idea.  And from my experience drinking with many people in many of these categories: they contain both men and women.

So how do you market beer to women?  You don't.  Get over it.  Make a great stout and market to stout-drinkers.  Make a great IPA and market to hoppy beer lovers.  But for god sake, stop asking that stupid question!
 
 
Picture
THIS is what a craft beer bubble looks like
"Is this a craft beer bubble?"  While it may be a sexy sensationalist headline in non-beer dedicated media publications, it is often weakly argued and I have yet to see anyone succeed in making the case.  And how sexy is it anymore really?  The question has been rhetorically asked so many times that it's starting to get pretty tired.  Actually, it's really starting to get on my nerves.

The question was asked yet again, yesterday in the Food and Drink section of Free Times in an article by Gerald Jowers entitled "Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Craft Beer? Yes."  Clearly, the title gives us the conclusion that the author came to, but what the author fails to do in the article is make us understand exactly how he came to that conclusion.

Recently, a few pundits have opined in various beer publications that the industry is heading for the same type of shakeout that occurred in the late 1990s. During that time, there was a quick spurt of growth in craft beer that ended in a collapse that was labeled a bursting of a bubble.
Today's craft beer boom is fueled by an honest passion for brewing and this shows in the quality of the beer.  According to this article, this was not the case in the late '90s, when entrepreneurs greedy for big pay-offs were getting into the business and producing sub-par beer.  Despite the authors own arguments which lead us to believe that today's craft beer climate is nothing like that of the '90s, he somehow comes to the conclusion that "the danger is real." 
For generations, megabrewers have used effective and relentless advertising to increase the demand for their products and create brand loyalty, but craft brewers are financially unable to do this. Craft brewers by necessity rely on word of mouth and guerrilla marketing techniques such as festivals to reach potential customers — a slow process, indeed.

So will there be a shakeout? Unfortunately, I think so, because the number of craft brewers is increasing too quickly. The survivors will be the brewers (and their investors) who have the patience to tolerate slow growth and the capital to hold on during the lean times. Regrettably, these survivors may not be the best brewers. The most successful and widely distributed craft breweries today, such as Rogue, Brooklyn Brewing and Sierra Nevada, have been around for over 25 years. The new guys have a long road ahead of them.
Without any apparent data to back it up, the author concludes that the growth of supply is outpacing the growth in demand.  Without any metrics to go on, it's hard to be certain.  But, with certainty, I can say that all of the craft brewers I know are currently working at capacity - they can't make enough beer fast enough to meet demand.  This includes two breweries which opened in 2011 and 2012 (The Commons and De Garde, respectively) and have already had to expand their facilities. 

Which brings me to the author's second point that I must dispute.  Word-of-mouth - and those wacky "guerrilla marketing techniques" like festivals - have been an incredibly fast and effective "marketing strategy" within the craft beer community, particularly with the abundance of beer writers and bloggers that we have today.  This is likely why, when a brewery produces a very good product, they find themselves having to expand within the first year.  Meanwhile, for all of Budweiser's "effective and relentless advertising", their sales have been plummeting.

That's because it isn't about marketing - it's about quality.  Only a very small percentage of beer drinkers are craft beer drinkers, though market research studies from last year indicate that more people would drink craft beer if they knew more about it.  As people learn more about craft beer, the demand has huge potential for growth.  Once growth in demand plateaus, then you can talk about a "bubble", but until then, don't waste my time.  Sure, there may be a "shakeout" of some of the craft breweries that produce sub-par beer, but that's always the case, in any industry.  And they should be shaken out, for the betterment of the industry as a whole.
...My concern is that many enthusiasts, while they do not have brand loyalty, tend to gravitate toward a particular style such as IPA and stay with it; the style becomes a comfort zone.
Really?  This is the final point that I have to dispute.  Is the author perhaps misusing the term "enthusiast" with casual craft beer drinker?  With very few exceptions, the craft beer enthusiasts I know actively seek out the new and different, across many different styles.  So don't be too concerned.  "Relax.  Have a home brew."
 
 
A Time Magazine article came out where the author implies that the craft beer market is becoming saturated, and seems to be raising the inevitable question: how long can the craft beer industry grow exponentially? 

There is no doubt that we're in the middle of a craft beer renaissance - or a craft beer craze, if you will.  Great ideas travel fast in a lightning-fast global social media game of telephone...and inevitably, when great ideas travel, people get excited.  The craft beer beer industry is projected to grow through 2017, according to the market research firm Mintel, and has already doubled in the past six years, despite the recession and the decline of the big-named domestic brands.  There is a certain level of excitement about craft beer which may dissipate over time among the masses, sure.  But would anyone ever ask the question: will the wine industry shrivel up and die when people no longer want high-quality wine?  No.  People will always want high quality wine.  Duh.

Of course, at some point, the craft beer market may become saturated and the rate of growth will slow.  It's almost a rhetorical question that Time is asking.  And inevitably, those breweries who produce an inferior product will get squeezed out.  But there will always be room for new breweries with a great ideas or a stellar brew.  And there will always be those of us willing to pay for it.  As the craft beer market becomes saturated, it grows more competitive and the breweries that are able to make it produce a great product.  My brewer friends, I know this makes it harder on the little guy to compete, especially if they're upgrading from home brewing to a new, larger system for the first time and have some kinks to work out, and that is a raw deal - but I have to also say that, given this scenario, the craft beer consumer wins.  So I say, keep that craft beer flowing, bitches!