Craft brewers can’t count on brand loyalty

Came across an interesting press release this weekend on Beer Pulse about the conversion rates in the craft beer industry between those who try a brand and those who are likely to become a regular customer of that brand. When it comes down to the economics, this could be viewed as bad news for the craft beer industry.

“Converting triers into regular usage is among the most critical factors for long-term success of beverage brands,” said David Decker, President, Consumer Edge Insight. “This is particularly important in the craft beer segment due to the proliferation of brands and varieties that consumers have to choose from.”

Coors will never have this problem because they know that all of the Uncle Joe’s of the world will buy a case of their beer every Friday night like clockwork. Budweiser knows every sporting event will result in X number of kegs sold. Craft beer consumers, however, are always after something different. While it may not be awesome for the economics of the brewery, the culture surrounding the beers is set up to try as many different flavors from as many different breweries as possible. From festivals to collaboration brews to variety packs, there is probably always another beer to try. With apps like Untappd and RateBeer at our disposal – the quest for another beer I might like is eternally ongoing.

untappd screenshot

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The brewmasters at craft breweries are sensitive to the desires of their consumers, as well. Just about every craft brewer has a selection of styles available, and these styles are fairly consistent across the brands. You may not like everything that Breckenridge Brewery produces, but you might like all of the IPAs or Porters that several local breweries put out. Add in the seasonal beers and the special edition bombers and anything brewed on a small-scale and hyped up, craft brewers might not have to count on brand loyalty to get what they need.

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Admittedly, I have tried dozens of beers only once. There is the anxiety that maybe I haven’t tried the best beer yet and I should keep trying until I reach that mecca. If the collection of stickers plastered on my laptop is any indicator, then I don’t like a particular craft brewery, I just like craft beer. At the same time, I have a few fall-back varieties that I’m going to pick up if there isn’t much else available.

Is there anything you consider yourself “loyal” to? Is there a craft brewer out there that could count on you to keep them in business?

About David Pennington

Denver based writer and editor. Managing Editor of Denver Off The Wagon. Usually up to some kind of delinquency. Photos of dogs, beer, and gnarly knee scars over at

  • Dave Butler

    One thing about craft beer is that I too like trying as many “different” beers as possible and find that I don’t tend to return to certain beers as part of my regular purchases. In fact, it’s rare that I’ll buy the same beer twice. There are some exceptions, like some returning seasonal favorites I like, but I tend not to ever buy more than 1 six pack of any kind of beer a year. So ya, for craft brewers relying on volume that’s not a good thing. With over 150+ breweries in the state, there is enough different beers to keep trying that we’ll never run out of something new to try. I love variety and that’s why I choose not to stick to one particular brand.

  • Kelly Tidd

    I’ve been called a Deschutes fan girl more than once. So, yeah, I’m pretty loyal to that brand when the goal of the night is less “OMG new, amazing beers” and more “let’s have dinner and catch up.” But you know, honestly, the reason I’m such a fan is because, not only do I like almost everything they do, but they’re one of very few breweries in which every single person I’ve met from that place has been so goddamned pleasant. And I like the idea of helping to support a brewery with that many awesome people on staff AND that much delicious beer in bottles and on tap.

  • Paul Merrill

    Given a choice, I’d choose a local, because of the environmental costs of transporting the beer from further away.

  • Marc Bayes

    Being a lover of craft beer I find myself in similar shoes as PJ and Dave. I am 100% loyal to all barrel-aged and rare releases by Avery. My everyday/seasonal is Great Divide. Coming from a reviewers standpoint it’s very hard to have 1 brewery in your fridge, especially if you buy far less everyday beer and much more of the rare releases.

  • Miller

    While I try as many different beers as possible, there are definitely a few fall-backs I have that I regularly go to – Great Divide and Odell have so many quality beers that I know I love, so I can’t imagine I’m “keeping them in business”, but they get my business pretty often, considering the amount of beer I buy.

  • kvillegas

    When I am paralyzed by choice, I always come back to my mistress – Odell IPA.

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