Taking the long view of the past 80 years since Prohibition ended, it went something like this:
1940s and 50s
Lots of local breweries making great beer. Kind of like today.
1960s and 70s
Big beer takes over and knocks out the little guys.
1980s – 2000s
Light beer domination gives rise to imports for flavor and variety, and craft beer is born
2000s to today
8,000 breweries and lots of competition
Competition in the beer business has always been the same, except during the great Craft Beer Expansion (approx. 2004-2015) when it was too easy. As always, there will be winners, losers and survivors. What you need to survive and thrive in 2020 is listed here:
Ten Lasting Principles
1. Create a brand people identify with – a badge they want to wear.
2. Provide a reason for the distributors to believe that the distributor will make more money supporting your brand than similar sized brands in their portfolio.
3. Velocity leads to distribution, not the other way around. When a brand “sells”, new distribution happens without even trying. If it doesn’t sell, there is nothing you can do until you fix it.
4. Lead your distributors by working harder in the trade than your competitors. They will notice and will follow you.
5. Get data and analysis that convinces retailers that they will make more money placing your brand on the shelf/cooler than competitive brands.
6. Displays sell more beer than anything else. The best result of any promotional activity is a display.
7. And of course, good quality, fresh beer. Old beer will destroy your brand, assuming the beer was great when it left the brewery.
8. In the taproom, educate consumers that an inch of foam is a good thing and they are not being cheated out of an ounce of beer. The beer simply tastes better and drinks better when it is poured properly in a beer-clean glass.
9. Serve low and no alcohol beers/beverages because the longer people stay in your taproom the more money they will spend. They will enjoy the big ABV beers you are proud of, but you will make more money when they can safely drink more.
10. The taproom experience should reinforce the brand…what do you stand for?
Enjoy the ride!