Cheap beers have their time and place, but they are rising in price faster than premium products and craft beers, according to an official study by Restaurant Sciences released over the past couple of days.
Popular, relatively low- cost and widely available beer products such as Bud Light, Miller Genuine Draft, Coors Light, and other products are rising in price faster than any other type of beer. The reason?- according to the Restaurant Sciences study, it is the result of increased popularity of Pabst Blue Ribbon more than anything else. This beer, however bland and unappealing it may be, is a big hit with hipsters, and that boost in popularity has convinced retailers to increase prices.
Chuck Ellis, head of Restaurant Sciences, says that Pabst Blue Ribbon has become “quite fashionable” and this fact, alone, has led to price increases. It is a simple matter of economics. If a product grows in popularity, even if supplies increase, a retailer can often get away with increasing the price because more people are willing to pay more for what they perceive as a desirable product.
“I believe the single biggest driver in sub- premium beer price increases is, indeed, specifically PBR”, said Ellis.
Prices have increased by about 6.8 percent for the sub- premium category, as the graph (courtesy of Restaurant Sciences) above illustrates. Other beer prices are up as well, but less significantly so and many are in- line with the rate of inflation and are thus not too much to worry about. Seven percent, however, is a sharp increase and if the research is accurate, Americans have the hipsters to blame.
The idea of Pabst Blue Ribbon having any sort of taste appeal to anyone is likely to make craft beer lovers cringe. But just because a product isn’t very good or is agreeably inferior to other products does not mean it cannot catch on as a cult favorite among certain demographics. It has happened before, not just in the beer industry but elsewhere, and it is bound to happen again.
Whether or not Pabst Blue Ribbon will maintain its popularity remains to be seen, but drinkers of cheap, flavorless brew should heed caution and perhaps broaden their horizons to craft beer and other, better products. If the price of Pabst Blue Ribbon and others continue to increase at this rate, the difference between these cheaper beers and craft beer will shrink, making the latter more affordable than ever. It could ultimately win over converts and push craft beer’s popularity higher in a beer market that has already been moving in this direction for many years.
Copyright 2013, Bryan Carey