The last email reviewing the marketing efforts of the 50 Fastest Growing Craft Breweries raised the question of whether there are comparable lists published for craft wine, spirits and non-alcoholic. Spoiler alert: the answer is no, and we dive deep into why in this post on the value of self-reported sales data for craft beverage marketers.
We’re also excited to introduce a new workshop series called TAP YOUR BRAND VIBE to help craft beverage companies use marketing best practices to engage customers eager to discover and share. Onsite, remote and self-guided exercises empower owners, managers and team members build an enduring brand suited for scalable growth and expansion to new markets, starting with a strong story.
There are hundreds of associations dedicated to protecting and promoting the interests of their membership. The greatest concentration is at the state and regional levels, where groups often form 1) to have a stronger voice in public policy, specifically around beverage alcohol sales, or 2) out of common interest, like promotion of a geography, AVA, or other feature for tourism purposes. The charter of these organizations might include providing resources to help the individual members start, manage and grow their businesses in addition to marketing the greater collective, driving [destination] traffic, industry press, etc. However, there are only a handful of national organizations that attempt to perform those same functions for members, including some of the more recognized below:
|Brewers Association – www.brewersassociation.org – more than 5,036 US brewery members and 46,000 members of the American Homebrewers Association work alongside industry trade representatives to promote and protect American craft brewers, their beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts.|
|Beer Institute – www.beerinstitute.org – a national trade association representing both large and small brewers, as well as importers and industry suppliers.|
|WineAmerica – wineamerica.org – the national organization of American wineries with a mission of “grassroots public policy advocacy on behalf of the industry.”|
|Craft Wine Association – www.craftwineassoc.org – focused on the small wine producer, on a mission to make craft wine as available in the marketplace as craft beer and spirits.|
|Distilled Spirits Council – www.distilledspirits.org – represents the leading producers and marketers of distilled spirits in the United States.|
|No Logo||Craft Advisory Council – a subset of the Distilled Spirits Council, focused on enhancing the member experience for designated “craft” distilleries and guiding the trade body’s programming and benefits (announced May, 2019).|
|American Craft Spirits Association – americancraftspirits.org – the only registered national non-profit trade group representing the U.S. craft spirits industry.|
|Kombucha Brewers International – kombuchabrewers.org – a trade association committed to promoting and protecting commercial Kombucha Brewers around the world.|
|AmeriBev – www.ameribev.org – the trade association that represents America’s non-alcoholic beverage industry, representing hundreds of beverage producers, distributors, franchise companies and support industries.|
We were only able to find a “fastest growing” list of producers for craft beer, not for wine, spirits or kombucha/non-alcoholic. The reason for this is likely one or a combination of the following:
- While we have been producing and consuming alcohol for millennia, labeling it “craft” is only a recent [marketing] phenomenon.
- The craft designation holds the most weight/influence in the beer industry, generally separating brewers based on size or, more recently, perceived quality (aka. craft versus crap).
- The Brewers Association launched the “independent craft brewer” seal back in June, 2017, as a marketing tool to “minimize confusion in the marketplace and clearly identify beers from small and independent U.S. breweries.” Criteria include:
- Small: annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less.
- Independent: less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled by a by a non-independent, outside interest.
- Brewer: has a TTB Brewer’s Notice and makes beer.
- In response to the “quality” and “artisan” implications of the craft label for beer, the Craft Wine Association was formed in 2016, designating craft wine as having:
- An identifiable winemaker working alongside the vintner
- Traceable sources of fruit
- Every wine produced in 5,000 case lots or less
- Similarly, the American Craft Distillers Association was formed in 2014, allowing members to determine their own definition of craft spirits in terms of:
- Transparency: location, ingredients and process are clear to the customer.
- Volume: fewer than 750,000 gallons annually.
- Independent: more than 75% ownership and operational control.
- In order to qualify for “independent” status in the eyes of the Brewers Association, [member] breweries must self-report barrelage annually. This led to the first “50 Fastest Growing Craft Breweries” report in 2018 (reflecting 2017 annual growth).
While the Brewers Association is currently the only trade group publishing fast-mover stats about members, there are a number of growth and economic impact reports for wine and spirits brands using data collected by third-party companies commissioned by regional or national trade organizations:
- Wine: WineAmerica 2017 Economic Impact Report; Beverage Dynamics 2019 Wine Growth Brands; and Gomberg, Fredrickson & Associates wholesale shipment reporting.
- Spirits: Craft Spirits Data Project 2018; The Spirit Business Champion Report 2017.
new: tap your brand vibe workshop
Do you have a sense of what VIBE your brand is giving customers? Would you like to learn how to improve your brand VIBE? Are you ready to engage new audiences and grow sales? It’s time to MARKET YOUR CRAFT.
Our VIBE methodology starts with a strong brand story at its foundation and then crafts a multiyear, dynamic marketing strategy using proven tools and resources. For more information or to schedule an onsite BRAND VIBE workshop, visit marketyourcraft.com/brand-vibe.