2019 Beer Industry Trends to Watch

Sometimes in business, the difference between success and failure is the ability to see the forest through the trees. Data can be an impactful benefit to the way you build sales plans, but getting lost in the details is ultimately a distraction that costs time and money. Not to mention, unless you’re spending hours each week compiling invoice details, comparing route-accounting specifics, or scouring internet search results, it’s nearly impossible to see how your purchase data stacks up with trends across the country.

Luckily, Fintech and the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) have partnered to bring clarity to these issues — taking numbers on paper and transforming them into tactile business practices that will help you sell more in the years to come. In our webinar, ”Beer Industry Review with NBWA”, we looked into industry-validated 2019 beer data, which represents 780 million cases sold across all 50 states, giving us a uniquely in-depth view into which products and categories crushed the market in the last year. Below are our biggest takeaways from 2019, and a few tips to prepare your business for 2020.

Cans: In 2019, cans were king. Despite rising tariffs and potential threats to distribution, cans jumped from a 56% share in 2018 to a 58% share in 2019. When we broke down this data further, we found that off-premise can shares rose 2% in 2019, and on-premise can shares grew a whopping 6%! According to the data, this increase came somewhat at the expense of draft share – but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Can popularity rose this year for a few reasons, mainly the introduction of seltzers, which haven’t quite made it to many draft handles yet, and more craft brands, which can produce far more volume in cans than kegs. Perhaps can packages are impacting the market because of their quality or versatility, but no matter the reason, it’s clear that they should be a big part of your business in 2020.

Seasonals: Year after year, we scour beer data for words relating to specific holidays or seasons; things like “Elf,” “Cheer,” “Snow,” “Harvest,” “Pumpkin,” “Oktoberfest,” and “Summer.” Our conclusion? Summer beer names need to take a lesson in creativity from fall and winter brands. But that wasn’t our only conclusion! Overall, 2019 was an excellent year for seasonal products, with expected ebbs and flows during major holiday weekends. Our data found great success for winter and fall brands. However, summer beer did not perform near as well, or a lack of distinctive names made them challenging to identify – not the worst thing considering summer still maintains higher sales than the rest of the year. Fall is inherently craft-oriented, and every year more brands jump into the mix, and the season itself seems to have a longer run.

Additionally, as we can see from the 2019 data, Oktoberfest is becoming a major on-premise holiday, with celebrations that last from the end of September all through October. Every weekend offers the opportunity to celebrate, and sales certainly reflect that. So, whether you’re a brewery, distributor, or retailer, it’s clear that seasonal targets bring success.

Seltzer: Last up is the biggest story of 2019 – hard seltzer. It stole headlines and shelf space all across the country, and the data indicates that it’s not going anywhere! Seltzer brands won big in both on- and off-premise retailers, up more than 5% from 2018 to 2019. This means the segment is growing faster than all premium plus lights, imports, ciders, and craft beers. Seltzer has grown astronomically over the last few years, and we found that sales went from about 200,000 cases per week in 2016 to more than 1 million cases per week in Fintech’s 2019 data.

These numbers were so compelling that we decided to peek at this year’s data as a comparison. What we found is that in the first 16 days of 2020, seltzer is already selling 2.8 times more than in 2019. The reason? Most likely the explosion of new brands entering the market. Everyone from small craft breweries to major market players are claiming a spot in the seltzer race, including Corona and Bud Light. It’s clear that consumers are attracted to the newness of seltzer and are looking for products that support a (seemingly) healthier lifestyle. From this information, it’s evident that if you haven’t already gotten on board, jump on the seltzer bandwagon for 2020.

No matter the data, it’s important to remember that a holistic view is best. See what the data says as a whole, then make decisions that will help your business succeed. Of course, the best approach is to build margins that will be unaffected when consumption tendencies ebb and flow. Automating your alcohol payment or collection process brings your invoice management into the digital age, with online access to all of the essential information you need. Partners such as Fintech allow you to pay or collect invoice payments digitally and then automatically pull valuable, actionable insights that your company can use to maximize margins and spend.

Through relationships with Fintech and the NBWA, you gain a business partner that not only gives you digestible data, but helps you build a business that’s unaffected when industry trends change. For more information about how Fintech and the NBWA can help your business, please visit Fintech.com/Brewbound.