The common Wisdom has always been that the beverage industry, beer, wine and liquor, is recession proof. That when times get bad, people drown their sorrows in adult beverages. Well, that common belief seems to be wrong, on the whole. Maybe this recession is just worse than the last few we have had. Maybe it is hitting more broadly across the demographics. Maybe the past is not a good predictor of the future. Or, maybe the pundits and economists don't know what the heck they are talking about. Maybe the answer is "E": All of the Above.
Alcoholic beverage sales have been affected by the recent recession. Domestic and imported beer, wine, and liquor have all been hit. There are a few exceptions.
Tecate Beer has reported that they holding steady, possibly even improved their market share in some markets. They have been specifically marketing to hispanic beer drinkers. Targeting beer drinkers with a cultural connection to their product.
Many higher price wines have been hit with a slowdown in sales, but some local wineries are seeing a growth in local interest at their tasting rooms from the local community. Buying local wines instead of imports. Giving to local businesses and keeping it in their community. Community events are well attended when it is hard to justify a trip to the city for a night out. Street fairs, county fairs serving local beer and wine give an overall feeling of banding together.
There are more breweries offering growlers: reusable, sealable beer jugs for sale to their customers to fill up with anywhere between 1/2 to 2 gallons of fresh beer. The cost is comparable or usually less than, the equivalent amount of bottle beer at the market. And it doesn't have to be trucked for 100's of miles or stored for weeks in a warehouse.
We are seeing an over-all drop in sales, but that isn't what should catch your eye. The thing to notice is that local beverages seem to be less affected by the recession than the larger, or import brands. This might not be consoling since many of the small local wineries and breweries are also in less of a position to weather a downturn, no matter how small. But there is an opportunity here.
Just like the joke about the two hikers that are being chased by a bear, and one sits down and puts on his running shoes. The other hiker tells him that that won't help him out run the bear. And the first runner informs him that its OK, all he has to do is out run his companion. As local breweries and wineries are loosing sales at a lesser amount compared to the large or import competitors, they are gaining market share.
As the market comes back, and it will, they will be positioned to take advantage of their increased market share.
What do we need to do, as consumers? We need to support our community businesses. They are what makes us strong. Buy local, shop local, build your local community. They are, after all, your neighbors.