News & Insights

The Glass is Half Full for Beer and Beverage Brands in the Year Ahead

By Jim Furrer

Four glasses of draft beer of different varieties in the forefront with a bartender pouring another glass of draft beer in the background

As consumers re-calibrate their beverage consumption plans for the year ahead, beer brands along with the broader alcohol category have the ability to recharge and re-energize their approach. While the past few years have seen the category facing a variety of headwinds, 2024 is shaping up as a year (and glass) filled with new opportunities.

As economic optimism continues to grow and inflation concerns calm, a more confident U.S. consumer in 2024 is coming into focus. For any beverage company who specializes in celebratory moments, a healthier economic outlook will mean more occasions to get your products in the hands of new consumers.

Where are the Consumers Consuming? Back to the Bar

While the pandemic temporarily shifted how people imbibe, data shows that a move back to dining out and social get-togethers may be finally coming to fruition. According to Technomic, “most restaurant segments should return to the low single- digit rates of real growth we saw in pre-crisis years.” This increase, and data from Mintel that reveals 66% of adults who dine out will “sometimes to almost every time” consume at least one alcoholic beverage, signals renewed potential for beer brands to reinvigorate their on-premise strategy.

So, while every touch point is important, the much beloved bar experience holds an incredibly unique place in our society and if more consumers are enjoying a few beers while dining out, that’s something we can all raise our glass to in 2024.

The Need to Authentically Stand Out

At RF|Binder, our team of beverage experts closely follow how consumers engage with their drinks of choice. While the era of choice overload in beer may be shifting, drinkers, notably younger drinkers, still have variety and flavor exploration at the top of their list. You might hear terms like “familiar with a twist” or “a new spin on a classic style” to highlight new riffs on your brand offerings, but it’s also important to stay within the wheelhouse of what your brand does best.

This goes beyond what we deem as traditional beer. For some time, non-alcoholic beer was something on the shelf that tasted like a pilsner. But as brands like Athletic Brewing authentically reimagined the non-alc space, and many heritage breweries including Sierra Nevada and Brooklyn Brewery are expanding their portfolios to meet demand, the category is bringing many new consumers into the fold. Of note, the non-alcoholic beer category saw a 35% year-over-year volume increase last year, according to Bump Williams Consulting, which shows that growth is possible when done with clarity and authenticity. And this goes way beyond Dry January!

Coupled with increased competition across wine and spirits, as well as hard seltzers, hard teas, and canned cocktails, now more than ever you need to have a well-defined message and unique value proposition that will resonate with the end user.

How You Describe Your Product Matters

What you say is important. There’s a saying in beer that “what’s in the glass is all that matters” and to a certain extent that is true. If you are a beer drinker, enjoy what you like, simple as that. But as a long-time beer enthusiast and someone who’s hosted dozens of beer tastings and appeared on beer magazine tasting panels, I’ve always gravitated to brands that take extra care in how their products are holistically presented and not just how it’s presented in the glass.

From branding and packaging to media interviews and social media, there are consistent ways that brands can positively connect with potential customers. This also extends to the dedicated bartenders and retail store representatives “selling your product” to prospective customers. If you’ve taken the time to educate and inform, there’s a good chance that will have a positive impact on the engagement with your products.

Wherever your beer brand might be in its journey, as 2024 unfolds, it’s part of a maturing category. Now is the time to think creatively, stand out, but never lose focus on the most important thing: the overall quality of your product.

Want to chat or learn more? Reach out.

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