Craft beer, an opportunity for the wine industry
April 30, 2016
I always loved my wines and due to my wine education, it took me some time, and in some way I still dont understand it, to get use to see people spending more on craft beer than wine, and it is not a lads' thing, women as well as men, with no difference, are happy to spend their money in craft beers reading through the beer list whilst going for the cheapest when choosing a wine without even bothering to ask for the list.
Good wine and craft beer, have had, until now, very different stories. Craft beer, even if the word "craft" is now sometime abused and eventually will damage the "craft beer" brand, still justify a premium, make people willing to pay more. In the wine industry we never had craft wines, but had several attempts, from organic, to bio dynamic to natural, and they all fail miserably or became niche.
Yes, craft beer is currently a trend and like all trends, plenty got caught by it, suddenly everyone does not want to be the person standing at the bar asking for a lager, pretending they never liked Peroni or Carlsberg, but still I keep asking myself how it got such a momentum that even wine loving countries, such as Italy, are seeing craft breweries springing up like mushrooms with beer consumption going up and wine consumption going down and I have identified a series of factors that have made the craft beer movement what it is and whether the wine industry can benefit from it.
Looking at the craft beer phenomenon two are the main elements I could not find in the wine industry, brewers until recently were united and pursuing a common goal and the lack, again until recently, of big breweries working against the common goal. The craft beer movement is, according to me, facing now its first challenges, the "craft beer" brand is starting to dilute, with some of the first and biggest craft breweries being sold to the same people they were up against and the trend is starting to lose momentum, replaced by other trends.
Wine makers, on the other side, they were never united, there is no unity, every winery has a different objective and too often, the objective is to take business from the next door winery, short term vision. The same difference of objectives can be seen at all levels in the wine industry, from importers to merchants, to shops, all competing against each other, while the craft beer movement has been united , they have and are working together to promote craft beer before anything else.
Another major factor in the success of the movement are social media, the movement has been driven by social media, craft beer drinkers are heavily users of social media. Beer is seen like an informal, more approachable drink compared to wine which is still seen austere, difficult to understand and appreciate, which is only partially true, and in this new perspective, wine should rejuvenate itself, make itself more friendly, and the craft beer can represent a unique opportunity for the wine industry to build a bridge between craft beer and wine and it has nothing to do with price, the craft beer proves it.
Craft beer drinkers, the ones that use social media, can be easily moved to wine, if they can enjoy a good beer , then they can use their acquired knowledge to enjoy a nice glass of wine, the step is closer than everyone thinks.
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