Here, Euromonitor considers what we can expect in the beer segment in the year ahead.
Automated home-brewing appliances providing crowd-sourced recipes alongside the opportunity for their co-operative deconstruction, the rise of online marketplaces and social networking capabilities bridging the cohorts of aficionados and micro producers, the democratisation of Beer Exchanges – allowing the tracking down of obscure varietals – and a full utilisation of multi-platform content to promote, interact and reach out to Millennials will all become key themes across the macro and micro landscape. Customisation, convenience and interactivity will be the driving forces behind the strange-yet-hugely-promising technological brew.
From ingredient and material inventories running low to the seemingly-infinite pool of quirky, controversial or irreverent brand names, pressure on brewers will build further in 2016. An on-going dearth of cans leading to mobile canneries making a fortune and industry leaders raising their limits for minimum orders, stocks of hops getting ever lower, the introduction of distribution incentives as the larger brewers look to disrupt channel access for craft brewers, and an on-going civil war amidst the micro movement over intellectual property, the competitive environment will become fiercer than ever.
Don’t Mention The ‘C’ word
Beyond definitional acrobatics and the rebellious groundswell of microbrewery openings breaking every historical record, 2016 will see the ‘Beer Empire’ fighting back. Quasi-craft offerings, takeovers and aggressive cost-cutting initiatives will force the craft movement on the defensive. However, the real danger comes from within: Economic headwinds could easily exacerbate pricing fatigue, increasingly more outlandish flavours could precipitate flavour fatigue, and the stereotype of the elitist hipster pontificating over an obscure brew will ultimately lead to a geek fatigue. Artisanal, grounded-yet-experimental, traceable, locally-produced and small-scale will become the new craft this year.
Future Styles Bubbling With Potential
A shift from super-hoppy, high-abv IPAs towards lighter, more sessionable alternatives, the rise of nitrogen-carbonated offerings beyond the realms of stout and porter and nascent-but-dynamic experimentation with flowers/botanicals as well as sour beers, fresh/low life-span products or even cannabis infusion and flavour sophistication will further expand the wide range of options available. Additionally, repositioning initiatives to hijack occasions historically associated with the consumption of adjacent categories like sparkling wine will irreverently question traditionalist ideas as cider and hard soda vie for the protagonist role in their struggle to capture some of the category’s momentum.