Industry on the edge: Hunting Craft Beer to extinction

The craft beer industry's fragile state is a hot topic.
The craft beer industry’s fragile state is a hot topic.

The craft beer industry’s fragile state is a hot topic. Beer Apps driving certain consumer demands are undermining industry confidence. From the supply chain to retailer, from brewers to wholesalers, it affects everybody. Drinkers’ continual search for ‘new’ beer has created a false market.

This writer recognised his failings as a Beer App user several years ago. He followed established behaviour patterns. Seeking beers he had yet to taste; shunning beers he had already tasted. Ticking boxes lacked personal satisfaction, and he felt guilt at not drinking a beer twice.

To industry observers, the Beer App generation’s inevitable damage is obvious.

Drinkers enjoy discovering new breweries and tasting their beers. But the quest for new beer means fewer people are sticking with their favourite brands.

For most it’s harmless fun because the harmful effects remain hidden—for now. For some among the beer faithful, the fun can turn nasty. Tech-dependency and high social demands lead to compulsions. And the so-called ‘fear of missing out’ legitimises addictive behaviour.

But a shift in trends is gathering pace. Away from social omnipresence towards more privacy and less subservience to technology. And many drinkers are thus abandoning Beer Apps.

This writer highlighted the potential damage several years ago. Beer App fans were indignant, despite a weakening craft beer industry. Responses ranged from ‘is this a joke? to a rather shocking ‘I hope you die!’

It is easy for those without skin-in-the-game to mock the ideals of an industry hoping for success.

Success is path-dependent. Survival precedes success. Risking total wipe-out makes any early success irrelevant. Beer App badges of honour fragilize the industry and fail to recognise breweries’ survival.

The beer industry must congratulate commentators like Ronald Mengerink for echoing its challenges. The anxiety is ever-present, yet few voice their concerns in public. The fear of alienating drinkers outweighing immediate regard for the industry’s demise.

Business history tells us industry grows strongest when progress is moderate. Yet today’s businesses behave like a reckless teenager receiving a Driving Licence. Speed is irrelevant if a driver is unlikely to reach a destination because accident risk is so high. Once industries reach terminal velocity and assure their destruction, a collision is inevitable.

And in the craft beer industry’s case, it’s ‘beer lovers’ who sit behind the wheel with a heavy foot on the accelerator.

The industry’s death is not a Black Swan—it is unlikely to be a rare, unexpected event. Statistics suggest it is likely to happen quite soon.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay