Craft beers, which are often very high quality and full of flavor, are becoming extremely popular.

The craft beer industry offers beer lovers everywhere both local and regional flavors that are too diverse to be carried entirely by one major distributor. This trend creates a lot of opportunity for new breweries to be opened within the craft beer space.

The level of competition in the industry has drastically increased due to a surge in the number of companies entering the space. It seems that large companies dislike the amount of business craft breweries are continually securing. To that end, they have started creating their own craft beer lines and acquiring smaller companies.

If you’re a craft brewer, there are some things about the industry that you must keep up with in order to remain competitive. This includes understanding the market, competition, and evaluating up-and-coming technology-based tools that can collect important data.

Reasons for Market Expansion and Demand

For centuries, people have been avid consumers and connoisseurs of wines, comparing different vintages and grape varietals. Some favor wines from one area, while other prefer wines from other regions.

Beer has largely replaced wine as the go-to drink in many social situations. With the surge in demand for beer, many companies have moved into the market to create one-of-a-kind craft beers to meet expanding palates. These new craft brewers create nuanced flavors formerly found only in wines or gourmet cheeses. Since demand has increased, customers want access to great craft beer everywhere, especially at restaurants and in the grocery store.

Market Share for Craft Breweries

There are more than 3,400 beer brewers currently operating across the United States. Despite the fact that a vast number of brewers exist, research indicates that 90 percent of all of the beers sold in the U.S. comes from just 11 companies. This means that only a few major companies and their subsidiaries own a substantial chunk of the market and it may be difficult for small or new craft brewers to overcome that obstacle.

One main reason why these 11 companies dominate the market is that more than 1,000 beers are not distributed in bars or retail stores. Brewers don’t often have the opportunity to expand in the same way as other brands, simply due to a lack of resources.

However, the overall number of craft brewers continues to rise. This year, craft brewers represent 19 percent of the $100 billion beer market. This has caused many major beer brewers, like Anheuser-Busch, to begin acquiring established beer brands to grow their portfolios, including AB’s planned $100 billion acquisition of SABMiller. Sources show that in the past few years, industry leader Anheuser-Busch has acquired several craft breweries – including Blue Point Brewing Company – giving AB a stronger foothold in the craft brewing market. Blue Point previously showed substantial sales of up to 60,000 barrels from its craft beer lines.

Need for Data on Market Trends

To stay relevant in the market, it is crucial to collect data surrounding both market trends and competitive intelligence. Larger beer companies have the ability to track these trends with resource-heavy marketing and data analytics departments. They can cast a very large net to effectively mine data for useful insights.

Competitive intelligence is also extremely important. A small craft brewing company that invests much of its research and development funds into a product similar to one that a larger company is about to release will probably end up shutting its doors. Similarly, monitoring competitive pricing is crucial to effectively take a brand to market. So, it’s vital to gather any competitive intelligence available to focus on open segments that are less touched by – and attractive to – the competition.

Mobile Collection Tools

The need for mobile collection tools is important in the craft brewing space, as regulations and operational processes make it difficult for small companies to manage their operations. The beer industry has special regulations that make record keeping and taxes more difficult than most industries. Therefore, it is very important to consider new technologies that are easy to use, implement, and engage.

A major benefit of mobile tools for the craft brewing industry is the ability to track metrics from any location, including where customers are consuming the beer. Much of this technology is readily available through apps for the leading mobile platforms like cellphones. Actionable, accessible data is needed to know exactly where competitors shelf their products and how they are merchandising them.

Craft brewing can be a lucrative endeavor, even for companies armed with the right information, tools, and direction. However, it is important for any brewer to understand the need to have a strong business operations team in place to compete against established industry leaders.

There is a rising trend in technological advances that provides craft brewers with tools to help them stay competitive in the market. These tools make it easier to manage administrative operations and continue to churn out new products. Overall, there is expected to be even more growth in the craft beer industry. So, keep an eye open for new companies and various new selections from the craft beer market.

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