“On the other hand,” says a recent report, “fewer than 5 percent of unemployed Americans drink craft beers; not surprising considering the beers’ premium pricing.”

As for income, more than 60 percent of craft beer drinkers live in households with incomes greater than $50,000, and close to 40% live in households with incomes greater than $75,000. The audience is primarily white and Asian, and “the coverage of $75,000 household consumers is a high 21 percent, compared to less than 6 percent from households earning less than $35,000.”

Everything’s Relative

cbeAccording to Jim Koch, founder and president of Boston Beer, the nation’s No. 1 specialty brewer, you have to go inside the numbers to get a true read on the importance of specialty beers (which he calls “better beers”) in the off-premise retail mix.

“You get into some problems extrapolating the numbers at the high end,” explains Koch. “Unfortunately, the high end of the category skews to on-premise consumption. The low end is generally skewed to off-premise. As for relative rankings, if Bud outsells Miller Lite 2-to-1, it’s probably going to look like that in the overall market.”

And never discount the importance of the profitability of the segment in your shelf sets.

“The direct product profitability is greater for a high-end beer than a regular premium beer,” notes Koch. “For example, let’s say you sell a 6-pack of Bud for $4 and a 6-pack of Sam’s for $6, and you