Without doubt we have not seen the potential of Craft Beer naming and branding like we have in the Wine Market. Creating a brand is what most beer companies aim to do which then creates their own niche. Ultimately Molson-Coors and AB-Inbevs are big through brand marketing.
In the last few days we have read about the firm who bank rolled the merger of Vermont based Magic hat and Seattle based Pyramid breweries is now looking to sell the group. This is a case of get in strip the fat and then sell the money making business of selling beer. We have seen the Boston Beer Company also known as Sam Adams have shares worth $72 now with money managers being bullish on them, which could also mean they could be a buyout option for other larger brewers, or they themselves could buy some other profitable brewers.
The merger and acquisition path will become more common a place as brewers who have been in the game 20 years decide they may decide to cash in and make their next 20 years more easy on the bank account and less stressful on the brewing and day to day business. Three breweries who merge into one company will only have 1 set of business operations, administration and create uniform marketing practices.
So where can we see changes in the future ? NAMES, Branding and Marketing!
SO far only beer nerds can decipher what beer I call a ‘Ruination’ ‘Double Daddy’ and ‘Abyss’. What about new beer drinkers who don’t even know a Lager from a Pale Ale? Or can’t decide between one ‘Imperial’ or ‘Evil’ or ‘Anniversary’ or ‘Collaboration’ beer?
In reading an article today in the Canadian Globe and Mail regarding the ‘Cognac’ industry now using Rappers to market their brands, it is only a matter of time before this happens in Beer too.Not that I’m up with the latest rappers or hip hop artists nor drink ‘Bub in the Club’ but fail to see how Cognac marketed by singers can then be targeted to the ‘gangsta’ crowd?
This happened in the Wine industry before Yellow Tail, and it is only a matter of time before certain stars will endorse a brandof beer. Greg Norman Wines are available world wide and have a fair fan base, and I’m sure are sold inside Golf Clubs and resorts. People associate names with a product, and this is where companies make money. Shots of snow capped mountains and ice cold beer trucks hurtling down the freeway mean absolute crap to me, but to certain people it means that brand of beer is ‘ICE COLD’ or ‘Rocky Mountain Cold’.
The biggest name brewer in the world at the moment comes from Aberdeen in Scotland BrewDog that has come out with massively high alcohol beers that I really wonder if it qualifies as beer anymore. The recent release of ‘The End of History’ that is 500 pounds a bottle that is enclosed in an animal. The brewery is pushing the boundaries of taste and alcohol acceptance as its 55% alcohol.
Though I have not overly enjoyed the two brewdog beers I have had, I do admire their ability to market to the US beer market. Other than Brewdog I only know of Innis & Gunn whom also market specific bottles of their beer to the Canadian Market. Whether they are the biggest and most boldest marketed beers in the market or not they have definitely pushed the boundaries and made everyone ask what is beer? should it be this high?
So with more craft breweries competing for shelf space in liquor stores, supermarkets and brewpubs there will be greater use of marketed names. The hype surrounding LeBron James and his decision to play ball in Miami means nothing to most, but could a LeBron James IPA become a brand that is both recognizable by many and helps create new market niche? Obviously Cigar City does not have the money to sign James to such a deal, but could a Budweiser or Michelob executive use star names to get into the ‘craft beer’ segment more effectively?
Unfortunately I don’t think it’s going to occur from smaller craft breweries as much as ‘management companies’ that run several breweries. I do not buy that kids follow baseball/sport stars and its bad for their image as kids also follow these rappers that drink Cognac straight from the bottle!
*Update 30/01/2012* Ex White Sox, Blue Jays, and Oakland Slugger Frank Thomas releases Beer - Big Hurt.. Ouch!!