Sometimes you get the feeling that the universe is trying to tell you something.
Last night, just hours after I posted my Open Letter to Ari Mervis questioning the transparency of CUB’s recent marketing and labelling of Byron Bay Pale Lager, His Holiness the Dalai Lama Tweeted:
If you are honest, truthful, and transparent, people trust you. If people trust you, you have no grounds for fear, suspicion or jealousy.
— Dalai Lama (@DalaiLama) January 28, 2013
How’s that for timing?
And then today I was sent a link to a recent interview in Fortune Magazine where SABMiller executive chairman Graham Mackay explains why craft brewers are growing too fast for the Big Beer industry to ignore them, and how his company is responding.
Dated December 12, 2012 and titled Big Beer’s response to craft: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, the interview includes the following exchange:
What drove that? [large scale consolidation]
The endless quest in the U.S. for repeatability. Obviously, every modern society has a bit of that. Also, the elimination of harsh and intense flavors has been the central sweet spot of the beer industry for decades, if not generations. If you go back 30 or 40 years and look at the formulations for the big brands that still exist, their bitterness levels in the U.S. are 7 to 9 [measured in International Bitterness Units]. Those brands, 30 or 40 year ago, were up at the 17, 18, 19 kind of level. European lagers are somewhere between 20 and 25.
The consumer has gone back to saying, “Let’s get a bit of interest, let’s have a bit of difference.” So, there’s been the growth of craft beer. But it’s also local, anti-marketing, anti-global, anti-big, and more focused on experience and knowing the brewer who produces it.
Anti-big, anti-international — you are big and you are international. So how do you play off this trend?
We have our own craft brands. We also look selectively to acquire, or form partnerships with, or cozy up to people who have incubated good businesses. It’s difficult for big companies to incubate small brands. That, at its heart, is the dilemma. To start a small brand in a credible, consistent, sticking-to-it kind of way is hard for big companies. That’s what small entrepreneurs do best.
Do you think that the core craft consumer embraces this model?
There’s a huge debate in the craft world about us, all big brewers, because we’re like the enemy. We’re the other guys. They think we’re stealing their authenticity. What we say is, “Let the consumer decide.” If we’re authentic enough for the consumer, that’s authentic enough for anyone. (emphasis mine)
It seems that if the Dalai Lama and the universe aren’t trying to tell Mr Mervis something, then his boss is certainly making some good suggestions.
Anyway, read the full interview. It’s very enlightening. http://management.fortune.cnn.com/2012/12/12/sabmiller-big-beer-craft-brewers/
Don’t forget, if you support my open letter to Ari Mervis, head on over and like the Facebook page: Dear Ari Mervis: Please Fix It.