As with most convenience store products, the decision on how much space to devote to craft beer at your convenience store depends largely on what your customers are demanding from the segment.
In fact, the size of a convenience store chain’s craft beer offering can vary depending on store, region and more.
One retailer shared with CStore Decisions that in some locations their stores only carry about two or three craft beer choices because craft beer isn’t in high demand in those locations, while at other sites they might feature close to 100 selections of craft beer, including local options.
Another retailer shared with CStore Decisions that about 75% of their beer set is craft beer at most locations, while other stores don’t have the same customer demand for craft beer, so they focus more on other types of beer like imports at those locations.
In other words, the key to a successful beer segment is to know the demographics your store serves. In an urban area with a large millennial and Gen Z population, hard seltzer and craft beer are likely to be in demand. Younger adult consumers also are demanding local products, so sourcing local craft beers can help your store become a destination for craft beer.
Making Space for Craft
Market research firm Mintel predicted that craft beer would be the only beer segment expected to gain volume in 2020 in on- and off-premise combined, with craft up 4%. It further predicted that craft beer volume would grow by 7% by 2023, according to Mintel’s “Beer: Incl Impact of COVID-19 U.S., November 2020” report.
Indeed, many c-store retailers reported that despite supply difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, craft beer unit sales ticked up as customers stocked up on craft beer to drink at home, including large 12-packs and 18-packs.
Mintel further noted that today’s beer drinkers are seeking many of the things craft beer is known for including more flavor, artisanship and strong brand identity from their beers, as well as beers touting natural brewing methods, which can signal to better-for-you.
“Craft drinkers are more engaged in the beer market, showing higher frequency consumption and an interest in brand and style exploration,” the Mintel report noted.
Given these trends, for most convenience stores devoting space to craft beer is a good idea, but to be successful in the segment, it’s also important to factor in space for a revolving door limited-time brews and seasonal offerings, so that craft customers can find something new to try on future visits.