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IMPACT Seminar Snapshot: Jim Koch On Craft Beer’s Climb

March 26, 2013

Over the past decade, the mass migration from mainstream beer to craft alternatives has continued to accelerate, leading to major shifts in the U.S. market. Jim Koch, founder and president of the Boston Beer Co., detailed craft beer’s rise to prominence and discussed why the category is well positioned to continue its climb during his presentation at the recent Impact Marketing Seminar.

“We’ve undergone 40 years of transformation,” said Koch. “Better beer—which includes import, craft and specialty beers—has gone from being nonexistent in the 1970s to now making up 23% of the market.”

According to Koch, the craft movement has been effective in helping to premiumize the beer category, which has lagged behind on that front in comparison to wine and spirits. “Beer has had an image problem. People have traditionally regarded beer as cheap,” he explained. Imports were previously considered the primary way to move beer upmarket, but that model hasn’t succeeded in creating a meaningful higher-end, he said. Now, however, craft beer has emerged as what Koch calls a “second model of premiumization” for the category.

Despite craft beer’s unprecedented growth, Koch believes that the sector still has plenty of upside in the U.S. “Craft beer will double again in the next 10 years,” he predicted, noting that the category is now twice as large as it was seven years ago. More premiumization is also on the horizon, Koch asserted. “Millennials are adopting craft beer the same way that Baby Boomers adopted wine.”


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