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Getting some strange Dept: a good thing?

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Has the selection of craft beers grown to the point of inhibiting or increasing sales and growth?
Confusing and inhibiting
 50%  [ 2 ]
I like strange, more choices makes me buy more
 50%  [ 2 ]
Total Votes : 4

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Capn Jimbo
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2014 11:08 am    Post subject: Getting some strange Dept: a good thing? Reply with quote

We've been on a craft kick here lately, but how bout this dilemma?

According to Just Drinks there's a controversy brewing in well, craft brewing. Anyone within chugging distance of a Total Wine knows just how large and confusing the tremendous selection of craft and imported beers has become. Its gotten to the point where even Total isn't sure how to organize them.

Apparently Bon Appetit Magazine has written an article to just this point: that we seem to be in a state of overkill, with so many choices that it is not only off-putting but is frustrating customers to the point that it may be affecting sales. "America Now Has Over 3,000 Craft Breweries—and That's Not Necessarily Great for Beer Drinkers" is the headline (see link). These confused customers are thus retreating to brands and craft beers they know.

OTOH the Craft Brewer's Association - like all such representative bodies - says "No, not at all - more choice is GOOD for sales". See link. The actual sales figures show that craft beers have a " 6.5% volume share of the US beer market and a 10.2% share by value" , but this is not information enough to reach a conclusion.

The facts...

1. As noted by Bon Appetit, there are over 3,000 craft breweries,
2. There are 100's of different releases, each week! You read that right.
3. For example just one craft brewery has released 155 different beers in just a few years.
4. To appear "new" packaging and labeling is constantly changing, making looking for that familiar label difficult.

Ad infinitum.

Ergo a question to our learned and brilliant regular posters for whom I've created this simple poll - with just two choices, lol - and please! Do feel free to explain your vote.


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Capn Jimbo
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Posts: 3499
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2014 6:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We've got some votes...

But no explanations, too bad. So far our poll favors the notion of choice, however extreme. Since I'm the odd man out (so what else is new?), I'd like to explore Bon Appetit's position that the growth of craft beer is running out of room with way too many choices, leaving many buyers confused to the point of indecision and walking away.

We love good beers but have had exactly this experience.

First I'd note that BA cites none other than the very successful Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head who feels it's really trouble that's brewing.

“We’re heading into an incredibly competitive era of craft brewing,” he says. “There’s a bloodbath coming.”

Second I'd note the Association's biased and weak defense, which relies on what's called a meta-study (study of studies). The Association cites the study, stating...

"More importantly, further analyses have found little evidence for the “choice overload hypothesis”. A meta-review of 50 experiments by Scheibehenne et al. (2010) found that the effect of increasing choices on purchasing was “virtually zero” and that “retailers in the marketplace who offer more choice seem to have a competitive advantage”.

With a claim like this I felt obligated to review this 17 page study, which the Association linked:

Do take a quick look, but I can honestly say that the Association has cherry picked and miscited the study's real conclusions, probably on the basis that they know you won't really read it. You won't, but allow me. BTW, if this starts to feel a bit much, just skip to the Flat Ass Bottom LIne below.

A look at the study...

What the miscited study actually shows and concludes:

1. It presents both arguments in support and also those opposed to the hypothesis.

2. It absolutely does not support the Association's cherry picking, but does note that there are indeed factors favoring the hypothesis that need further evaluation.

Here are some of them:

3. "Having more options to choose from within a category is likely to render the choice more difficult as the differences between attractive options get smaller and the amount of available information about them increases".

4. "Large assortments also make an exhaustive comparison of all options seem undesirable from a time-and-effort perspective, which could in turn induce fears of not being able to choose optimally".

5. "Large assortments may also increase expectations, and if the available options are all very similar, these expectations may not be met".

6. The meta-study noted the failure of attempts to replicate early studies (favoring the hypothesis), but noted that these did NOT disprove the hypothesis as the Association falsely claimed, but rather these contra-findings DID indicate the need to better identify the factors that did lead to reduced sales reported.

Flat Ass Bottom Line

I will never forget my years of nursing study at a well-known, research based university. As such we were inundated with all manner of studies and were taught to read, evaluate and critique them. Even so, if you took a quick look at the study the Association linked, you can see how easy it can be to cherry pick and cite out of context, or to miscite such a document.

This study was of the kind we had to drag our tired minds through. It wasn't easy then, and it's harder now. But I still have the chops enough to identify the Association's misleading and simplistic defensive position. They are hiding behind the complexity of the data. What I get is this:

Let me quote from the meta-study's own summary (last two paragraphs):


"In summary, we could identify a number of potentially important preconditions for choice overload to occur, but on the basis of the data on hand, we could not reliably identify sufficient conditions that explain when and why...

It is certainly possible, however, that choice overload does reliably occur depending on particular moderator variables, and researchers may profitably continue to search for such moderators. Our review of this literature identified a number of promising directions worth exploring in future research."

In simple English, the study found that choice-overload IS quite possible, but requires more data and further study. Unlike the Association it does NOT reject the hypothesis, a conclusion quite different - and rather the opposite - of the Association's self-serving miscitation. That this false and simplistic conclusion was written by their "economist" who surely understands this study, is especially disturbing. QED

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I actually want more choices, but not more of the same.

If there are any craft brewers reading . . .
1. I am tired of IPA's and overhopped crap.
2. Adding lots of hops to Belgians makes the beer suck and any interesting flavor from the yeast gets drowned from the hops. I'm sick of buying overhopped "Belgian" style beer.
3. Consider bittering with other herbs besides hops. I'm really interested in gruits.

Hops is for lactating mothers and for stifling your libido.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 6:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I voted with you, Cap'n, but I also echo jankdc in not wanting infinite repetition of crap, or in the example of Heineken from a bottle, skunky beer.

Some beers that I have enjoyed in the past were made from MacTarnahan's from Portland, OR, which was almost the epicenter of the craft-brewing that grew out of the 1980's, and I used to be able to buy it at my local Bevmo!, but it had been about a decade since I was able to do that.

That said, I prefer cider, and supposedly there is a rising interest in hard ciders....again, as in the late 1990's.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2014 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I mainly drink at home and rarely do I drink beer at home. Wish I could add something to the mix but shall be trying my local beer festival but I've just checked the dates and shit I missed it. it was on the 24th Dham!

Never mind there may be a silver lining. Swansea is getting it's first micro pub.
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