The Craft Beer Industry is currently expanding around the world quite rapidly; however, it is still a relatively new and exciting sector to work in, without a major source of official data about its state through the different countries. Therefore, we will study the beer industry as a whole in order to get a reliable perspective of the industry before narrowing it down with some facts about this sector, paying attention to the Spanish market.
Spain produced 33.6 million hectoliters of beer in 2015 with a growth of 3.1% over the previous year and it’s the biggest growth since 2006 setting the country as the fourth biggest producer of the European Union and the tenth worldwide.
The Spanish population as the European in general has showed a clear interest for the craft beer. During the last 8 years a new trend has influenced the beer industry with the developed of this product. This segment has had a strong growth despite the years of crisis. At the beginning of 2008 Spain could count 21 microbreweries with a volume of production that did not exceed 100’000 hectoliters per year. At the end of 2015 the Aecosan agency, registered 361 microbreweries, with a growth rate of 1.600% in an interval of 7 years.
The enhancement of the number of microbreweries has met a parallel growth of the late of demand. During the last years the interest for this product increased a lot. During the last year only there has been an approximate growth of 33% of the market share.
The craft beer is idealized as a quality product with strong territorial connections. Its nature requires a differentiation strategy that is typically established by microbreweries, or SME. Most of the time these microbreweries are led by entrepreneurs who convert their passion in an economic activity. They are spread in all the territory. The community with the biggest number of microbreweries is Catalonia, with a total of 76, followed by Andalusia and Castilla y Leon with 56 and 39 respectively.
The 60% of the Spanish population recognizes drinking beer at least occasionally, while a 12.7% consume it daily. By gender, men drink more beer than women especially when the frequency of consumption is bigger.
The existence of a wide variety of craft beers with different flavors and prices makes this product very flexible and can reach consumers of all ages and socioeconomic status. The diffusion of the craft beer is very tied to his geographical location, because generally they are small companies with limited capacity of diffusion.
There are multiple variables which allow us to categorize beers into different types. In order to simplify this classification, we will choose only two of them, which are:
- Standard Reference Method (SRM): It refers to a beer’s colour. There are four main categories (1-10; 11-20; 21-30; 31-40). The first one (1-10) is the typical for pale beers whereas the last one (31-40) is the characteristic range for a dark coloured.
- Alcohol by Volume (ABV): This parameter is highly flexible in craft beers. It varies from around 3% to more than 20%.
Differences between craft and commercial beer
Although there are several differences between craft and commercial beer, two factors are the most important: price and flavor.
- Price: Principally, production, distribution and marketing costs increase the price of craft beers because it needs more time to elaborate the same amount of product, demanding more attention in order to obtain a higher quality.
- Flavor: In general, craft beer taste better because brewers spend more time focusing on quality, having a direct impact on the flavor whereas mass produced beers prefer the commercial benefits instead of excellency.
4 P’s Analysis
In order to have knowledge about how the craft beer industry meets consumers’ needs in Spain the following analysis gives a deeper insight into this specific market:
- Product: Gastro, Goose, La virgen or Cibeles, are some of the most well-known Spanish artisanal beers in the market among some 361 microbreweries in the country.
- Price: The range of price for 33cl bottles varies between 2€ and 4€, meanwhile a 75cl bottle’s price will alter between 6€ and 12€.
- Promotion: Craft beer unlike industrial beer bases its promotion strategy on elaborating an authentic and genuine story, since the consumers the industry is targeting are looking for emotions. Adding to that, a simple use of social media takes care of the rest.
- Place: Contrary to industrial beer, artisanal beer cannot be found in supermarkets. It is generally sold in specific beer sellers such as Naturbier in the city of Madrid, or through internet web pages like cervezartesana.es.
Spanish beer exports rose in 2015 for the sixth consecutive year, increasing 28.6% over the previous year. In 2015 2.3 million hectoliters were sold abroad, being Tourism the most influential factor of exports increase. The destination of Spanish beer is mainly Equatorial Guinea, United Kingdom, Portugal and China, adding up more than 150.000 liters of the total exports together. Imports increased also by 3.9%, but below the 14.6% increase in the last year. Spain imported 4.6 million hectoliters being France, the Netherlands and Germany the main countries of origin.
Regarding craft beer, despite of the immaturity of the market and even being this one less than 1% of the beer total production, many Spanish microbreweries export abroad, reaching markets worldwide. This is the case of the Domus beer, which already reaches Italy, China, Belgium, UK and the Netherlands. Cibeles, meanwhile, reaches Panama, Texas and Tokyo. Sagra takes its products to the United States, Thailand, Australia, Chile, Brazil and China, among other countries.
To promote craft beer culture of quality in Spain, on June 7, 2014 was born the Spanish Association of Independent Craft brewers (AECAI), founded by Domus, Sagra, La Virgen, La Cibeles, Dawat, San Frutos and Arriaca brewers. The association aims to bring together the best breweries nationwide.
All members of the AECAI may bear the seal of the Association on its label, giving value to the end consumer who will be sure about being drinking a quality real craft beer.
The future of craft beer industry
Craft beers market is growing quickly since the economic crisis began. However, it is a highly competitive sector where strengthen a dominant position is a challenge for microbreweries.
According to the current trend, their market share is supposed to increase exponentially depending on their commercial and resources acquisition strategy but this scenario will only take place in the long-term.