Craft beer slowdown is real and getting worse
Has the craft beer bubble burst? Contributor Dan Fox – also known as Hey Beer Dan – points to some statistics that could signal an irreversible decline.
No single market-research tool can accurately capture every possible market dynamic. And every such tool has its weak points. With that said, ignoring the declining craft-beer growth rate documented by as recognised and authoritative a resource as Nielsen, is unwise at best, catastrophic at worst.
Over the recent past, here’s what Nielsen data has said about the volume growth rate of the craft-beer segment. The raw measures may be imperfect, but chances are the trend they chronicle is quite real.
Nielsen Craft-Beer Growth Rates (Annualized*) (Data sources linked)
The gut response from many craft loyalists to what they see as threatening news of this kind is immature: Question the data, deride anyone who mentions it, and look for examples of fast-growing craft brands as if they weren’t included in the Nielsen data. In other words: disbelief, nastiness, or off-point argument. Pretty childish.
In its latest issue, Beer Marketers Insights identified a more rational, businesslike response: Attuned to market dynamics and with an eye to the future, four of 2015’s five fastest-growing craft brands – Lagunitas, Firestone Walker, Ballast Point, and Founders – all consummated deals with BigBeer. It amounts to a shared view by the strongest craft brewers that continuing their success in a slowing category means real change from the past.
For children, change can be a scary thing.
For adults, it can spell opportunity.