We remember a time when light beer was the total cool kid at the bar, but it looks like things are changing. A recent story in The Washington Post reports that domestic light beer sales are trending toward a 10-year low in 2015.
Light beer was flying high in 2008, but since then, sales have fallen by 8.3 million barrels in the United States. Part of this is because beer consumption in general has decreased 20 percent since the early 1990s, but also because craft beer is kicking everyone else’s butts. Even though the beer market is shrinking, craft beer production has increased 9.6 percent and the number of craft breweries has more than doubled between 2007 and 2012.
People want the “good stuff” and they’re willing to deal with consuming more calories to get that experience. Consumers care so much more about where their alcohol is coming from, who is making it, what ingredients are being used, and how innovative a brand is. Although light beers are more diet-friendly, craft beer drinkers are going for quality rather than quantity. They prefer to have two really solid craft beers in an evening rather than a 6-pack of light beer.
Craft beer isn’t the only thing leading people away from light beer; spirit sales have also risen too. Large beer manufacturers, like Budweiser and Coors, see this and they are not ready to accept defeat. They are responding to this shift in the marketplace by giving the people what they think they want: more variety and flavors. They’re branching out from the basics and investing in things like Coors Light Summer Brew (the brand’s first seasonal extension ever) and Bud Light’s Lime-a-Rita. Response seems to be positive and they will continue to create products that American consumers want to drink.
So, is this really the end for light beer? We say no way, Jose. There is still a decent sized market for the brew and we know we still like to drink it from time to time. Variety is the spice of life, right? Some people also argue that no one really consumes alcohol for health and wellness reasons, which may be true, but if people are trying to watch their weight, light beer definitely provides a decent option. We don’t think it’s going anywhere any time soon.