Selling craft beer in cans just got a little easier.
Beer cans being filled.
The first beer can sold was of Krueger’s Finest Beer in 1933, and quickly became a popular package, especially with major beer producers. As the craft beer movement took off, early craft breweries avoided cans to separate themselves from “big beer” (as well as logistic issues) until about 2002.
That year, Oskar Blues first canned Dales Pale Ale, and pioneered the craft can movement.* Since then, cans have taken off in the craft beer, cider, and even wine community. More consumers are beginning to understand that canned beer does not equal domestic light lagers, but many are still unsure of cans.
Quality assurance folks, brewers, packaging techs, and your sales team know that cans better for the beer (less light pollution), easier to carry, and better for the environment.
But that doesn’t change consumers’ minds.
Today, cans still make up a small percentage of cans as a percentage of volume. A recent study by the Brewers Association’s Nielsen Craft Insights Panel (CIP) shows that bottles are still a dominant choice of package for craft brewers. But the percentage of cans is on the rise (fortunately, not because of a decline in bottle sales).
As more breweries create can packages, convincing the consumer to buy becomes the challenge.
According to the CIP data, 55% of consumers consider taste as an important factor in purchasing beer in bottles. Almost as many (47%) cite quality as an important factor.
In the 15 years since Oskar Blues first released cans, and there’s still education to be spread. When they first started, they were doing side-by-side tastings (Dale Katechis talks about it here) and there’s still a long way to go.
Side by side taste tests are a chance to personally connect with consumers wary of canned beer. An experience like that can shift someone away from thinking that bottled beer is better, and can be a chance to communicate the benefits of cans. But there’s only so many tastings sales reps can hold in a lifetime.
So how do you convince beer drinkers to buy beer in cans? It takes a village.
From Wiseacre Brewing Co to Old Forge Brewing Company, breweries are trying to explain why they’ve chosen to package their beer in cans. And as larger brewers like Dogfish Head and Lagunitas shift in to cans (whether Tony Magee wanted to or not) add cans as a package, it will get easier for smaller brewers to explain why they’ve chosen aluminum over glass.
But even then, actions speak louder than words. Selling people beer is about selling the experience. As brewers, retailers, and can-believers (like CraftCans.com) can put cans into an experience where beer is enjoyed, more consumers will shift their opinions of cans. A recent social media study suggested that 78% of people are influenced by social media posts made by companies.
So how do you convince beer drinkers to buy beer in cans? You sell them the can experience. Show them that the convenience of a beer can makes it much more valuable than a glass bottle. Demonstrate that quality is improved when light and oxygen can’t get in, through quality assurance education at brewery tours and beer tastings. And finally, don’t stop selling!
*From The Oxford Companion to Beer, pg 216.
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