Thursday, October 20, 2011

Stuff Rich People Like.

Oi, beer geeks, let's be honest about who we are when we're plunking down $10 or more for a six pack or $5 or $6 for a pint in a bar. Generally, we are not poor (although the few of us who technically are poor, according to whatever definition, do have excellent priorities). And we should be careful about assuming that we represent some great cross-section of America.

Have a look through some photos of your favorite beer festival and see what sort of cross-section it represents. Well-fed white folks, that's what I see.

So there is no reason to get upset over this quote from Harry Schumacher, editor of the Beer Business Daily: "The brands that are growing are the brands the rich people drink."

Now, "rich" is a relative thing, and there are many well-off Americans who would hate to think of themselves as "rich," because that's a word reserved for the bad guys in the movies, not for all us equals. But there are a lot of ways to determine whether or not someone is "rich," and to the minimum-wage or unemployed stiff trying to rationalize putting even the cheapest beer into his family's grocery cart, since the food stamps won't cover it... I suspect that one look at your latest bottle-shop receipt might decide the matter for him.

Also let's remember that craft beer is still less than 5 percent of total beer sales volume, and that we are talking about a wider movement toward better-quality and/or non-mass-produced and/or locally made food and drink. It's not poor folks behind this movement. These things come with a price tag.

And there is some of the usual teeth-gnashing from the beer industry in this latest article from Advertising Age. The comments come from a National Beer Wholesalers Association meeting in Las Vegas. The big boys are still scratching their heads and trying to figure out why they're bleeding sales while higher-end liquor, wine and beer is mopping it up.

Clearly it's because of branding. Sure. Wouldn't that be convenient? Much easier to fix than a wide-ranging change in public taste. That would be unthinkable.


  1. Ten bucks for a six-pack?! You don't know you're born, mate!

  2. Joe, Don't forget the $6 bomber, also known as the $20 six pack.

  3. Another point unmentioned in the Ad Age article is how the Big Boys have been raising their prices the past few years.

    (for example:

    Obviously there are still bargains to be found among the domestic lagers... But the more they raise prices, the more folks on the lower end of the economic scale will switch to cheap, hard liquor. Way more drunk for the buck there.

    And yet still they will say they have a branding problem.