Increasingly, customers expect their favorite c-stores to stock up on their favorite local and regional craft beers.
This past July, the Brewers Association announced it is issuing a certified independent craft brewer label seal, available to qualified producers. The upside-down beer bottle image symbolizes the upending effect the craft sector has had on the packaged beer market, and the fact that the product has been brewed by a smaller producer and possesses all the characteristics associated with craft blends.
The hope was the marker would stimulate more consumer awareness about micro- and regional brewers.
“This seal is a simple way to provide that clarity—now they know what’s been brewed small and certified independent,” said Bob Pease, Brewers Association president and CEO, at the time.
In a time when U.S. consumers are becoming even savvier and choosier when it comes to craft beer, this independent designation also could benefit convenience stores in that customers can more quickly distinguish craft beers among the national and import labels also housed on shelves and in coolers.
As the number of c-stores that continue to stock local and regional brews continues to grow, retailers are betting that the robust demand for craft offerings in the convenience channel won’t go flat anytime soon.
“Microbrews make up about 14% of our overall beer sales. They were at about 12% this time last year,” said Reilly Musser, vice president of marketing and merchandising for Robinson Oil Corp. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company owns and operates 34 Rotten Robbie c-stores in California.
Because most microbreweries can’t compete with the national advertising abilities of Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors and Pabst Brewing Co., they rely on word of mouth and a vibrant social media community. However, Musser makes sure she markets craft labels as heavily as other beers.
“We promote three types each month on our window signage: a premium beer (Bud/Coors) because that is still a major part of our sales, a microbrew and an import, because those are growing like crazy,” Musser said.
Total sales of craft beer in U.S. convenience stores for the 52 weeks ending July 16 registered approximately $1.1 billion, per Information Resources Inc. (IRI), a Chicago-based market research firm. That represents a 9.2% increase compared with the same period in 2016. Also, the number of craft beer case sales in c-stores climbed nearly 7%.
Article Credit(s): Anne Baye Erickson, CStoreDecisions