The Economics of Beer

May 8, 2012 in Daily Bulletin

America has traditionally believed that low prices are the most important thing. Yet in recent years there has been some evidence to suggest that Americans would prefer to pay a higher price if it means better quality. This battle between price and quality is most evident in the world of beer according to David Sirota. Highlights of his article include:

  • Beers produced by the major brewers taste bad. They use cheap ingredients and don’t contain much alcohol in order to produce high volumes at low costs.
  • This is why you’re often encouraged to drink your beer cold. It hides the taste.
  • This is reflected in their marketing strategies. Rather than talk about how good their beers taste, beer adverts generally focus creating a link between a beer’s brand and an entire class of people. The beer you drink becomes a statement of your identity.
  • In contrast micro-brewers produce beers that cost more but taste much better. Sales increased by 15% this year and these beers make up 5.7% of total beer sold by volume and 9.1% of beer sold by dollars.
  • Rather than attempt to emulate this model and produce better quality beers, major beer companies have tried to further distract from the taste of their product and focus on trivialities. Examples include Coors Light which is introducing colour-changing cans and Miller which is introducing Punch-top cans that allow you to drink your beer quicker. The idea being that you should be able to quickly consume their beer without having to taste it.

To read more about how Apple and Wal-Mart fit into this, the strategies that micro-brewers are pursuing, and why the United States might be moving towards a German economic model, click here.

Source: Salon