Not once, but twice last week I read about a presumptive sweeping movement in the beer industry: the death of the flagship brand.
First, it was Chelsie over at Stouts and Stilettos, followed by Derek at Bear Flavored. Two different takes and perspectives on the cultural rejection of the notion that breweries, as a business, might have One Beer to Rule Them All.
Is there truth to this? Maybe a little, but no more than what we could glean from when Andy Crouch wrote about this same topic in 2012 :
So in the end of an era for some pioneer brands, where consumers appear ready to fully embrace their long-developing beer brand promiscuity, the first era of the flagship is over. The ultimate result of the evolving craft beer consumer’s fickle palate is the end of relations with these former beaus, only to be replaced with a new, younger and hipper string of beer relations.
Let’s for a moment assume we’ve spent the last four years witnessing the Death of the Flagship. The most important point we should talk about is addressing the audience for which “flagship” matters.
I am the 1 percent. If you’re reading this post, chances are you’re the 1 percent, too. We are the ultimate minority, the beer enthusiast who thrives on promiscuity and badges on Untappd. We want to learn about new beers from new breweries to fill our portfolio of experiences, often at the risk of ignoring heritage brands or simply buying beer in “bulk,” opting for single servings instead of six-packs.
There is nothing wrong with that. However, there is still 99 percent of the beer drinking public out there for which that behavior is not the norm.
Then again, this topic is wildly complicated. What we need to be asking, then, is what do the numbers show? Are flagships dying? Maybe, but not like you think.