ALEXANDRIA, Va.—To the beer industry, the convenience channel is unique and different from bars, restaurants, stadiums, grocery stores and package stores. “Convenience stores are critical for our industry,” said Lester Jones, chief economist for the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA). He discusses this and more on this week’s episode of Convenience Matters, “Cheers for Beers.”
“From 2010 to 2020, we were in this vibrant economy where the experiential channel was so important to the beer market,” Jones said. “This experiential channel was all about going out and interacting in the marketplace in new places. We had movie theatres with alcohol, we had laundry mats with alcohol, we started seeing some convenience formats offering food and alcohol, grocery stores having beer gardens.”
With the pandemic shutting down those experiential channels, convenience stores became even more important for the beer market. During the lockdown phase of the pandemic, consumers focused on brands they knew and larger package sizes.
“Beer is kind of a victim of its own success in the world of innovation,” Jones said. “We as an industry, brewers in particular, have done really well in growing this category from a pale, light lager to … all these styles and brews that you can consume. … [and] we now have this category of seltzers.”
Jones said it’s no surprise that people want something as simple as seltzer water with a little bit of flavor kick and a little bit of an alcohol spike. “These are the complete opposite of the full body … concoction of craft beers,” he said.
Each week a new Convenience Matters episode is released. With more than 200 episodes to choose from, the podcast can be heard on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play and other podcast apps and YouTube and at www.conveniencematters.com. Episodes have been downloaded more than 130,000 times by listeners around the world.