How Will Mature Beer Markets Grow?

By addressing women.

Mature markets is a misnomer, first of all. They aren’t mature if the entire population isn’t equally invited into the conversation.

One of the goals of the Brewers Association, for example, is to figure out how to grow in mature markets. Markets keep evolving and advancing, receding and changing so growth is a relative term. So I’d ask: how do you want to grow? More importantly, how do you define growth? What are those components driving your definitions? How will the definition change going forward?


Growth isn’t only or always about volume or quantity. It can be myriad definitions, as it suits the parties involved. I laud businesses who focus on growth as stability, internal improvement which then radiates to external audiences. Growth that lessens environmental impact, improves the quality of life of those involved and gives to the community around the entity is smart. Growth that increases capacity or volume sheerly for “more” is misguided and doomed to bust, sooner or later. Balloon walls are only so forgiving.

I can guarantee that when beer invites women into the conversation, markets will evolve – they will grow in participation – they will advance with more voices, more education and more participation. Until then, well, good luck beer.

Market growth isn’t that difficult to figure out or to accomplish. For example:

  1. Do the images and picture you use equally feature women and men? if it’s lopsided, you can fix it right now. I’ve yet to see a beer magazine have an equal mix of women and men. Who will be the first one to rightly accurately represent the population??
  2. Do labels, beer names or brand names focus on the beer, and steer clear of anything sexual? If your beer can stand on its own, it deserves a place in the market. If you are relying on sexist images – of any sort – then get out of the way for the rest.
  3. Are you talking to everyone who approaches your beer with equal enthusiasm? If you reduce people to brains & tastebuds, vs. reproductive make up, then you’re doing it right.

Beer needs women more than women need beer. Heck, women – and men for that matter – don’t ‘need’ beer at all. Growth of beer is reliant on women and the sooner the professional beer industry community sees that, the better off we’ll all be. In fact, I’ll drink to that.

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Beer: A Philosophical Review

Beer has always been beer. It’s been around as long as humans have been in one spot long enough to make it.

So why is there now *suddenly* a definition of what beer should be?

I speak of the word Craft in reference to its use with the word beer.

When I started WEB I’d use the word, as did the crowd I hung with – the professionals I’d come to know and enjoy. The longer I’ve been around the industry though, the more I chaff against it. Here’s why.

When I was teaching public school a number of years ago, and even when I was in my education program in college, I quickly saw that labels and identifying words could be damning. And permanent in a very negative way, with both positive labels and negative ones.

Beer is beer.

Beer is beer.

Ever been called stupid? Unique? Smart? How about ADD, ADHD, Special Needs?  Perhaps the titles originally were designed to help those who thought they were helping the student. Nevertheless, those same people conjuring up these titles ended up creating more damage than good. It works both ways: Champion, Winner, Title Holder. Pressure anyone?

People like to name things, because it helps us understand and go forward. Although for some, they become a crutch, a permission slip to not do this or that – or to do this or that.

I hated them as a teacher and simply wanted to see the student as the person they were. Yes, we all have qualities and talents and physical and emotional characteristics that make us who we are. They are should not solely define us or who we are and can be.

The same holds true with beer. To use one word to narrowly define what something “can” or “should” be is arrogant. Who gives whom the authority to create such a definition anyway? Or who decides to take the authority especially when it’s a universal item that most people on the planet have their own definition for already.

Yes, definitions change. It’d be impossible for something to not change. Mother Nature changes, people change, times change. My beer is like my body: it’s up to me alone to define what it is. It’s personal and to have someone tell me otherwise – that’s not beer – is ridiculous, disrespectful and unacceptable. They’re invalidating my opinions and beliefs.

It’s time to change “back” to no delineation. It’s time to recognize and work with all beer, tastes, flavors, recipes, and ideas of what beer is, can be and what people want their beer to be.

To create delineations in something as universal as beer is also anti diplomatic. Why create and drive another wedge into something everyone already owns themselves? Our energies and efforts are much better spent elsewhere. You shut out as many people or more than you bring in when you draw a line in the definition sand.

And no, don’t argue with me that one kind of business that makes one kind of thing is better or worse than another. It’s untrue. Along with that, ‘small’ is a word I also loathe when applied to business. There’s nothing small to an effort you put your entire life into. And all big/ger businesses started much smaller as well.

I could go on and on about this. And will pick it up another time. For now, here’s where I stand. Beer is beer. Let’s leave it that way.

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Fair Teri

Here’s a nice article to read involving some great descriptions of the beers in the piece.

Regardless of who brewed them, in this case all women, it’s a bundle of useful information on describing styles. I’d encourage you to pass it forward to those you know who want to learn more about beer styles and descriptions of those styles.

Well done to Noah and our friends at Draft for a solid educational (and tantalizing) piece.

Cheers –

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What Does 'Local' Mean (#4 of 4 Series)

When you think in terms of local and regional goods, what do you think of?

What does it mean to be “local”? What about “regional”?

In focus groups, women say that buying local, more and more, matters to them. When pressed for what local means to them, we do an interesting dance.

  • “What does local mean to you”
  • That it comes from close by.”
  • “So is an egg produced by a chicken within 50 miles local?”
  • “(usually) Yes.”
  • “Farther than 50 miles??”
  • “No.”
  • “What about your beer – how close is local?”
  • (Run through similar questioning)

makes-beerAt the same time, because the conversation invariably turns to the fact that say hops is grown in limited areas of the world, then the definition is stretched to accommodate. And, knowing that, it’s perfectly fine with them.

They are telling us that local is a balance to strike – like everything else. Yes, they’d love it if all the ingredients were sourced locally, yet they realize that the crops are not necessarily available – so that is factored in.

Regional, well, that extends the definition even farther. If they want, say, a Midwest beer – wow! They’ve got a warehouse full of great choices. California? Same drill. Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota? It gets dicey simply due to sheer numbers.

So pay attention to how you advertise your ingredients. It can be a big plus – when a component is sourced close by. Just as importantly balanced out as buying organic. These are all conversations with your consumers and supporters you know. Talk it up.

Find out what it means to your patrons.

Photo courtesy of Flickr by Adrian Midgley

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Good Example

Here’s a good example of a definition in a website format.

Wrapped Full Sale Session Lager bottles

Wrapped Full Sale Session Lager bottles

Most women in the focus groups I conduct (and I find it’s true with many men as well in conversation) are unfamiliar or unsure of what specific industry terms mean. “Craft”, “microbrewery”, “brew pub” – they all need constant further clarification for the average consumer.

This is not a gender issue – it’s an expert mentality issue. Don’t use jargon. Get out of your expert mentality – you’re selling a product to the average consumer. And like any averages, there are more knowledgeable and less knowledgeable people…aim for the average where definitions are concerned. You’ll never insult someone by offering a definition that is non-condescending. They’ll either confirm they know (which solidifies their enthusiasm) or learn.

Definitions could be used for a solid pre-shift, a fun piece of wall art, or a basis of a contest – “how many can you inform?!”.

Just be sure you do something about it.

Define, educate, improve the customer experience. Everyone reaps the benefits.

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