Over the last week or so I’ve read a few articles and blog posts about the macro vs craft thing, particularly as it’s taking shape in the U.S. It seems that there are people on the craft side that are encouraging all out war against the macro brewers. They want to use tactics like peer pressure and boycotts to … to do what? I haven’t seen an objective stated.
What, exactly, will boycotting the craft brands of a mega-brewer accomplish if you don’t boycott everything they do? Do they think that boycotting at the local level will have any discernible effect on the suits at Head Office? As far as I can tell, the biggest effect will be on the front-line people that are making and pouring the beer. You know, the people that had no say when their formerly independent craft brewery got gobbled up.
Those advocating for boycotts and applying pressure have accused the mega brewers of being bullies. They need to take a look in the mirror. They’re very, very close to adopting the same behaviours of the mega-brewers they’re fighting against.
Look, I don’t have an issue with someone trying to encourage consumers to shift from one product to another; that’s what marketing and advertising are about. But I do have an issue with negative marketing and advertising. Back in the days when Pepsi vs Coke was a big thing, I took the side of Coke because they advertised the merits of their product, rather than taking Pepsi’s approach, which was to effectively bash on Coke.
You want people to shift from macro to independent brewers? Awesome! Tell the consumer about the merits and virtues of the independent breweries, and win them over that way. This is about beer, which ought to be something that brings us together for a good time, regardless of what beer each of us drinks. I’m all for craft beer and supporting independent brewers and the communities in which they operate. But, I’m not in favour of supporting something to the detriment of something else.
Yes, some of the mega-brewers employ business practices that aren’t all that nice and friendly, but if I eschewed the products of every company that didn’t operate in a humane, loving, 100% honest, and friendly manner, there’s not many companies from whom I’d purchase anything. I’m willing to be educated and informed about the companies I may purchase from; I’m not willing to be told whether or not I should purchase from them. I.e.: don’t tell me what to do, give me the facts and let me make my own decisions.
There’s already far too much hate, divisiveness, and negativity in the world. Let’s not let all that nonsense creep into this wonderful thing we call Beer Culture. As noted author, speaker, and consultant Simon Sinek says, “Fight against something and we focus on the thing we hate. Fight for something and we focus on the thing we love.” We love beer. We love great craft beer brewed by independent breweries. Let’s fight for that.