6 Trends to Know for Beer Season Success

6/5/2018

Beer season is officially here!

In the 15 weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day, beer sales are on average 20% higher than the rest of the calendar year, according to Nielsen. Add in that the Fourth of July and Memorial Day are the two biggest holidays of the year for beer sales, and it quickly becomes apparent just how important it is to have a set plan for summer sales success.

For off-premise businesses, focus your efforts on these summer beer trends and your sales will climb alongside the Mercury.

 

Home-tainment Continues to Heat Up with Millennials

Last spring, we reported that 47 percent of consumers were choosing to drink at home, as opposed to heading out to a bar or restaurant. This millennial-driven “home-tainment” shift in drinking preference has continued to grow, and as of May 2018, 56 percent of millennial consumers now prefer to drink either at their home or at a friend’s. *

With that in mind, it makes smart business sense to make sure that your store will well stocked with grab-and-go variety packs. Put some in the cooler, others on endcaps and even more displayed on the floor near the front, and you’ll be well prepared to grab your customers’ attention no matter where they are in the store..

 

Premium 4-Packs are the New 22 oz. Bombers

Not long ago, beer shelves were crammed with an endless sea of 22 oz. bomber bottles. At that time, they were the preferred container choice of both craft beer producers and craft consumers. Times have changed, and while large-format packaging is still around, many big bottles have mostly gone bust and in their place been replaced by sparkling 4-packs of 16 oz. cool aluminum cans.

So why are these cans so hot this summer? Well, unlike the 22 oz. glass bombers, 16 oz. cans don’t let any light in, so the beer inside stays fresher longer. A can will also chill down much fast than a glass bottle, which is imperative during summer’s hottest months. Also, consumers tend to view the large-format bottles as something to be stored, cellared and only opened for a special occasion while 16 oz. cans are thought of as something that can be opened at any time, but still shared between two people.

 

Craft Brewers Going Big with 15-Packs

Craft breweries have always been resourceful at identifying untapped opportunities to stand out in an increasingly crowded market. This summer, more than a few craft breweries are standing out by releasing 15-packs that blend in with those created by much larger breweries. By creating these larger packages, craft breweries are now able to get their beers into the “well” of the cooler section at supermarkets and c-chains, where retailers usually place big packs and where there is far less competition from other craft breweries.

According to a recent DRAFT magazine article citing Nielsen data, while 15-packs currently produced by craft breweries only make up a 1.5 percent share of all craft beer sold, sales of larger packaging sizes have grown 87 percent. 

So why are these craft commodity packs now resonating with consumers? One reason is that some consumers are fatigued from the overabundance of beer-style variety available. Today’s older millennial consumers, while still enticed to try new things, are also now looking for simply a good, fair-priced and uncomplicated beer that they can depend on. Craft 15-packs deliver on that consistency, giving consumers a standby with good value and flavor.

 

Hard Seltzer Sales Remain High

Over the past five years, seltzer sales have bubbled up 42 percent to 170 million gallons sold each year. So, it should be no surprise that their spiked and sparkling cousins – hard seltzers – are also growing at a similar clip.

After all, the latest wave of hard seltzers entering the market are basically a package of three big consumer trends combined. They’re low-calorie, with most coming in right around 100 calories per serving, much lower than a glass wine, beer and most cocktails. They’re gluten-free, so those consumers counting their carbs can imbibe guilt-free. Also, most of the products available are naturally flavored, which is beneficial as consumers are drinking smarter and are looking for more transparency from the brands they choose to support.

If you need even more reasons to bring in hard seltzers this summer, consider this: hard seltzers are also an increasingly popular mixer and low ABV alternative for health-conscious customers. Consumers are choosing beverages that are sessionable and can be enjoyed over the course of a day at the beach or in the backyard.

 

Flavors from the Garden

When the weather shifts from cool and grey to warm and sunny, so do your customers’ taste preferences. As spring transitions into summer, consumers begin to crave those fresh-from-the-field flavors we associate with the season: cucumber, peach, rose and tropical hibiscus.

Conveniently, brewers and cider makers have taken note of this trend as well and have released a bounty of botanically inspired beers and ciders. To take advantage of this trend, make sure that you have bouquet of these fresh-flavored beverages prominently on display in your store. Ideally, group them together on an endcap or a themed floor display.

 

Mexican-style Lagers

It wouldn’t be a trends report if we didn’t touch base on at least one trending beer-style, and this summer it is the Mexican-style lager that has been winning over beer drinkers.

While the style isn’t anything new or innovative, it does come at an intersection of a few key consumer trends, chiefly: low-ABV, conveniently priced and consumers view it as an authentic product with transparent ties to a real place and culture. For more insights as to why sales of Mexican-style lagers are only going to soar higher in the off-premise, head over to our full article on the style here.

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