Overall Beer sales within U.S. off premise channels have declined -1.1% on volume in the 52 weeks ending 12/02/2017, and Craft beer sales growth, while still positive has moderated substantially.
Several factors are contributing to this, but could Craft beer trends related to the ABV be one of those? A large percentage of Beer drinkers (53%) in the key 21-34 age group say they always or often pay attention to the alcohol content level of the Beer that they drink.
On one hand, there seems to be a lot of buzz around “sessionable” beers. Yet, based upon a 2017 Nielsen On Premise consumer survey, almost 60% of Craft beer drinkers say that their ideal Craft ABV is over 5%, with ¼ saying that it’s over 6%. And the real sales growth driver within the off-premise Craft segment right now are higher ABVs in the 7% to 10% range.
According to Danny Brager, SVP Beverage Alcohol at Nielsen: “Today, Craft beers in the 7.1% to 10% ABV range owns 20% share of total craft beer dollars within the Nielsen measured off premise universe, up 4.2 share points since 2013. In terms of dollar growth, this ABV craft segment grew almost at +18% on dollars in the last 52 weeks, more than twice as much as craft beers in the 4.1 to 7% ABV range. With higher ABV craft beer sales on the rise that could be — among others — a contributing factor to decelerating craft beer growth rates. It also ties in with the continued popularity of IPAs, not only the large Craft style, but one that is still enjoying double-digit growth levels.