The economy sucks, there's no denying it. Money seems to be tighter today than ever before, no matter how much the national media touts the "recovery." More and more people are being forced to tighten their belts, and this lesson is not wasted on the country's retailers. To answer the need for greater value and lower prices, an increasing number of self branded beers are hitting shelves. You'll find self branded everything, from mac 'n cheese to bread and desserts. You'll even find store brand beer out there now.
Now self branded beer might not sound very appealing. Most of us equate black and white label brands with a sacrifice in quality for a lower price point. Is that the case with these beers, though? Interestingly, it might not be. One example, Big Flats from Walgreens, seems to be making waves in the industry. Retailing for about $.50 per can, you'll find quite a few pleased customers out there who are enjoying this brew.
Another company that has introduced their own branded beer is Supervalu, one of the country's largest grocery store chains. Their Buck Range Light label has debuted to decent reviews from customers, as well. There are others getting on the bandwagon, as well. Some even started doing this before the economy got particularly bleak. Take Costco, for example. This warehouse super giant introduced their Handcrafted Ales line of beers back in 2008. Even 7-Eleven has gotten in on the act with their Game Day Light and Game Day Ice beers.
How are these store brands going to compete with the Big Three, though? Interestingly, it's not really down to advertising. While Bud might have spent the equivalent of a small nation's GNP on recent Super Bowl ads, it really comes down to consumers. When given the choice of paying a higher price or a lower price for premium quality beer, the wallet is almost always going to win out in the majority of cases.
What does this mean for the craft beer industry? Will store brands affect the sales of beers like Pete's or Sierra Nevada? Most experts say "no." This is largely due to the fact that those who buy these types of beers are looking for a replacement for Bud or Bud Light, rather than a craft beer. Most store brands are positioned to compete with watery American beers, rather than craft beers, anyway, so it might actually be a moot point.