AdAge reports that sales of "bottom-shelf" beer brands are climbing: Miller High Life is up 6.5% over the past four weeks, Keystone is up 11.2% in the same period, and both Busch and Natural Light are up as well. (Sad to see the writer of the story say that High Life was "ironically dubbed the 'Champagne of Beers'"; it sure as hell wasn't ironic when that slogan was coined.)
"I'm selling way more economy brands than I'm comfortable with," said one MillerCoors wholesaler, who said he'd seen big gains not only for High Life and Keystone but even for also-ran brands such as Milwaukee's Best and Hamm's.
"Consumers are trading down."
Yes...but they're still buying a lot of crafts. Craft sales continue to grow. How come? I think it's because more and more people are buying crafts, not the same people buying more units of craft. I said years ago that the biggest hurdle to growth that craft beer faced was one of availability: the consumer can't try it, buy it, if it isn't there on the shelf or the menu. Once it was available, I said, you'd see people grabbing it.
Well, it's happening. I just got a release from the ESPN Zone about their new craft beer program (built for them by Steve Beaumont, so yeah, it's for real), and that's just the latest. Good beer's cropping up all over, and people are buying it.
So...if you want a quick buzz, you can go cheap. If you want something really interesting and flavorful and fun and good with that dinner you've got cooking...craft is now available in all aisles.