Fred’s a wise man. I’m glad he’s a colleague and friend, cohort and fellow flavor lover.
He’s also right. Invitations to discuss, explore, consider, and converse will always be more productive and successful than being exclusive, judgmental, and limited in our thinking.
American “craft” brewers are aiming to get to 20% market share by the year 2020. I’m all for smart thoughtful growth and wish them well. I’ll do my part to enjoy, share, and spread the word. I’d caution them all to invite, not judge or exclude. Some of them are very open-armed, some of them are very blindered in their thinking.
Craft is a word used in the industry, by the industry, not necessarily by the everyday consumer. Really: take a look at “craft” share – it’s in the single digits and definitely growing. To assume people everywhere are aware and share the same basis for any definition is dangerous. It harkens back to the 1970’s when the word “Natural” took over the grocery stores. There was no nationally recognized meaning, no factual base of governing body to set down parameters. It’s too broad of a word. I think craft is one of those words as well.
For instance: If you choose to market a beer as a craft beer, who are you targeting? Other industry folks? A specific market/s wherein there are people who share your same definition? People who have their own definition? People who simply want to think of beer as beer?
When consumers use the word there are varying degrees of understanding what they think craft means. It’s very contextual for everyone. Well crafted: I can get behind that. Size of business to me never gets ahead of quality. If a beer is considered craft by this definition, and their quality is poor, then there’s no craftspersonship to that. It’s slop, careless and not dedicated nor helpful to the entire industry, never mind the end consumer.
Use titles and labels IF AND ONLY IFF they are universal and factual. Ask: “What does [any word/phrase] mean?” If everyone answers the same way, there’s most likely good reason to use it. If not, reconsider. Reconsideration will open new ways of thinking and invite more people into the conversation and encourage participation. That’s the whole idea here.
I often find that professional events leave out the crucial person in all discussions: The Consumer. After all, they are the ones who will buy and support any business. Please include consumer considerations in all business equations. Consumers and customers are both internal and external.
If you invite people in, to enjoy well crafted goods, then kudos. Well crafted serves everyone.