That’s the question the industry is asking as news broke last week that Walmart’s refocused beer-selling plan is paying off — and craft beer is a big factor in the success. Bloomberg reported that Walmart’s aggressive, beer-focused sales plan is all about striking at the core of what’s popular with beer drinkers, from mainstream sellers to more adventurous craft beers.
“We’re seeing dramatic increases in sales,” said Steve Bailey, who attended the summit as vice president of chain accounts for Columbia Distributing, which supplies beer to about 90 Wal-Mart stores in Washington and Oregon. That “has pushed us to pay more attention to Wal-Mart.”
Better communication helped generate more sales, said Bailey, who noted that craft beer sales at his Wal-Mart stores in Washington and Oregon have been especially robust.
“They’re adapting to what’s popular in a local market,” he said. “They have a willingness to expand to brands that aren’t nationally recognized.”
Walmart’s signature price dropping is, of course, helping to drive sales. But that strategy doesn’t work in every state across the board. In Ohio, for example, Bloomberg reported that the state’s laws prevent the superstore from dropping prices. The story explained that Walmart adapted by offering gift cards and rebates when beer was purchased with cross-promotional items.
Beer is big business, and Walmart is looking to cash in. As local, regional and national craft beer demand grows, it appears that Walmart will stock its shelves full of what sells in the area. How does this impact the sales and distribution chain? What does it mean when the country’s most mainstream retailer gets into the home-grown craft beer game? Craft Brewing Business will stay on top of the latest craft beer developments to bring you the answers.