While beer consumption in the United States fell during the beginning of the recession and again at the end of 2013, it is on the rise again and beer remains the most popular alcoholic beverage in the U.S. Americans may continue to choose beer over other types of alcoholic beverages, although the brand of beer they will choose is less predictable. Consumer preferences regularly change in response to new ad campaigns, price, or for no detectable reason.
Sales of once unassailable beers such as Budweiser and Miller High Life have declined by more than 25% from 2010 through 2015. Meanwhile, sales of such beers as Modelo Especial and Stella Artois — once more marginal brands in the United States — have more than doubled. Based on five-year increases in U.S. sales, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 fastest growing beers in America.
Premium brands such as Michelob Ultra and Coors Banquet, as well as imports, especially from Mexico, dominate the list of beer brands with increasing shipments. In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Eric Shepard, executive editor with industry news organization Beer Marketer’s Insights, said, “There has been significant trade up in the U.S. beer industry.” Drinkers have increasingly chosen craft beers, higher-priced premium brands, wine, or spirits over the traditionally dominant mainstream domestic beer brands.
“Consumers trade up for various reasons, whether it’s something that they perceive as being more prestigious, more flavorful, [or] whatever the image issues may be,” Shepard said.
Despite their popularity, many of the nation’s fastest growing beer brands would be difficult to distinguish from one another in a blind taste test. Beer critics also generally rate these brands very poorly. As a result, advertising in the mainstream beer industry is essential. A beer like Stella Artois can go from being associated with binge-drinkers and abusive alcoholics (as it was in the early 2000s) to a high-end, classy beverage — all from advertising and despite an unchanging formula.
Of the 10 fastest growing beers in America, four are Mexican imports. Shepard noted changing U.S. demographics as one factor that could explain Mexican beers’ massive growth. Hispanics made up 17.3% of the U.S. population in 2014, much more than their 3.5% share in 1960.
To identify the 10 fastest growing beer brands in America, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed shipment volumes provided by Beer Marketer’s Insights for all brands with more than 1 million barrels shipped in either 2010 or 2015. For reference, approximately 200 million barrels of beer are shipped to the United States in a given year. There are 31 gallons in a barrel, or 13.8 cases of 24 12-ounce bottles each.
These are America’s fastest growing beer brands.