According to GuestMetrics, based on its database of POS sales in restaurants and bars, the most expensive tier of craft beer brands are responsible for the majority of the growth in the craft beer segment. 

“As is widely known, craft beers displayed strong growth last year, taking about 1.3 points of unit share in on-premise at the expense of premium light, import, and premium regular beers. In addition, during the first 2 months of 2013 the craft beer segment continued its momentum, gaining 1.2 points of unit share in on-premise despite a slowdown in the overall beer category due to pressure on low and middle income consumers, which has pressured overall growth in restaurants and bars. To better understand what drove the strength in craft beers, we identified four broad price tiers across the roughly 3,000 craft brands sold in on-premise,” says Bill Pecoriello, CEO of GuestMetrics LLC. “Similar to the premiumization taking place in the wine and spirits categories, the most expensive tier of craft brands drove a disproportionate share of the growth in craft beers.” 

“The most expensive price tier, which we are calling Tier I, had an average price $6.65, which is 20-50 percent greater than the other three tiers’ average prices, and accounted for about 19 percent of all craft beers sold last year,” says Peter Reidhead, VP of strategy and insights at GuestMetrics. “However, despite being significantly more expensive, Tier I grew unit sales by 27 percent versus the much more modest 3 percent unit growth among the other three tiers, which accounted for 81 percent of craft beers sold.” Based on GuestMetrics’ price segments within the craft beer segment, Tier I accounts for 19 percent of unit sales, Tier II for 36 percent, Tier III for 26 percent, and Tier IV for 20 percent of unit sales. “Based on the significant difference in growth rates, of the 1.3 points gained in unit share by craft beers last year, 0.7 points of the gain was due to share gains by Tier I brands. To put that in perspective, even though Tier I only accounted for 19 percent of craft units sold, it accounted for 54 percent of the share gains.”

“It’s important for restaurant and bar operators to understand the specific brand dynamics in their local market in order to maximize revenue and profits,” says Brian Barrett, president of GuestMetrics. “Within Tier I, the three brands that gained the most in share were Lagunitas India Pale Ale, Karl Strauss Red Trolley Ale, and Stone India Pale Ale. As we progress further into 2013, we will be able to monitor whether this trend of premiumization within the craft segment continues to take place, and which brands lead the charge. This also has implications for the mainstream brands that have been losing the most share, Bud Light, Miller Lite, and Budweiser.” 


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