Beer Packaging and its Effect on Sales

Beer can come in many tastes and prices, but there are other factors that can affect a consumer’s choice in what to buy. Therefore, the packaging of the beer into certain quantities can change consumer’s preferences based on the social environment they are going to enjoy the beer in.

6 packs and 12 packs are the most common packaging options for any beer type. 6 packs first appeared around the time of WWII due to the idea that this was the easiest arrangement for women to carry while shopping. The 6 pack continues to stay prevalent due to advertising that makes people think that a 6 pack is a perfect amount of beer to bring to a social event such as tailgating or a house party for yourself or for you and a friend to share. Glass bottles still prevail for 6 packs as it is considered nicer than the aluminium can.  In addition, retailer refrigeration  units usually are built in a way that 6 packs fit in easily. Most refrigeration units are able to take a 6 pack of beer anyway you slide it in, but 12 packs and bigger are sometimes too big.

A 12 pack is advertised as something to share with a couple of friends and projects this purchase as a social act in of itself, where people will like you more if you offer to share a 12 pack, like many Bud Light commercials advertise. 12 packs of glass bottles exist, but it is more common to see cans. This is due to transportation issues of packaging 12 bottles together, and expecting consumers not to care how unwieldy it is to carry that kind of packaging of beer.

Growlers are unique in the fact that they carry around the same amount of beer as a 6 pack, but it is all in one large container. These containers are sold on location at breweries and are extremely easy to carry with you. They are refillable at bars and breweries and so are also very efficient both for the consumer and the producer, as the producer doesn’t need to pay for additional packaging material to sell more beer, and the consumer can benefit from the air tight seal, and a consumer can much more easily carry multiple growlers over multiple six packs. There have been advances in the quality of growlers, with plastic, ceramic, and many other materials making growlers more appealing.Capture

Finally, there are 24 or 30 packs of beer. Only the most prevalent beer types, or very low quality beers are successfully sold in this manner. Mass produced beers such as Bud Light, and its lower quality counterpart Busch Light, are the most commonly sold beers in Lexington to W&L students in the opinion of workers and locations such as Kroger. These packaging of beers are only bought for larger gatherings. While 6 packs, 12 packs, and even to an extent growlers can be for individual or small groups, these larger packs are intended for parties, and so are placed in prime advertising locations in stores in a college area such as Lexington. Understanding the demographic of your consumers can help a company choose the appropriate packaging choice to maximize sales.

11 thoughts on “Beer Packaging and its Effect on Sales

  1. I think that the growlers will continue to increase in popularity because it is filled with beer on tap, so the consumer will know that it will be much more fresh than canned or bottled beer.

    • I also think that the growlers will continue to increase, because of the increase in microbreweries we looked at in earlier posts. This is because Microbreweries sell the majority of their product on location. Some of these will have bottling capacity, but almost all will sell their beer in growlers. This is seen especially with Blue Lab in Lexington, they make the majority of their sales in growlers and on location drinking, due to their limited hours the growlers become more common. As more and more of these micro breweries come up the growth of the growler will continue to rise.

      • One disadvantage of growlers is that the beer should be consumed relatively soon after filling, no more than 3 or 4 days after. After that, the quality starts to deteriorate. Cans and bottles will continue to be popular as well, mostly due to their convenience and ability to be stored for longer amounts of time.

        • The main thing with growlers is that you have about two days after opening them to finish it, but growlers can stay good for a long time if you keep them sealed. As long as you open it up on a Friday, you can use that growler for the weekend and be fairly well off. Cleaning it is pretty hard though and lots of people don’t take the proper time to clean so that is important as well.

  2. Unless I’ve done my arithmetic wrong, a growler is slightly smaller than a 6-pack, but not by much.

    In the industry, a “facing” is how beer is arranged in a store cooler. At a depth of 6 cans/bottles, a “2 facing” means 2 six-packs or 12 cans, a “3 facing” means 3 six-packs or 18 cans. Beers that sell less get 2-facings.

    A key question: how does the price per beer vary with packaging? Since consumers own the packaging with growlers, one hypothesis is that (re)filling a growler should be significantly cheaper than buying a six-pack of bottles that get thrown away. [Though I hope you recycle them…!] Is that the case? Similarly, cans cost less than bottles [and are more profitable in the recycling stream]. Does that show up in price? Or is this a form of price discrimination?

    • I may be wrong but I do believe that a twelve pack of bottles of Bud Light are in fact more expensive than a pack of the Bud Light cans. A lot of the new advertising that brewers have been airing over the past five years focus on the physical qualities of the beers container. From bud lights “vortex bottles” to Millers “air flow” cans, commercials have been completely focused on the containers carrying the product rather than the product itself, due to the little differentiation between the major brewers beverages.

      • Coors’ cold activated cans that turn blue when your beer is as “cold as the rockies” is another great example of a firm differentiating itself using packaging. By suggesting an ideal temperature at which to drink their beer, Coors is also ensuring that their customers have a quality experience each time they crack open a Coors Light because they can easily determine if a beer is too warm to be enjoyable.

  3. Although it may be a stretch, this discussion of advertising could be linked to bundling in the form of variety packs, which in their own right are also a form of marketing. While the large breweries for the most part sell single product packages, smaller craft breweries or subsidiary breweries often sell 12 packs with three or four varieties of beer, often with one of them being the ‘flagship’ product. This is intended to snare customers of the original product and expose them to new products and hopefully increase their sales. These packs also appeal to a wider spectrum of consumer preference. And while these deals are always available, they tend to spike around seasonal changes and holidays, specifically for the latter because people are in a more susceptible state of mind. These variety packs are also almost exclusively in bottle form, which is perceived as higher quality and worth trying.

    • Yeah the variety packs are actually a great idea, and I know a lot of breweries encourage these variety packs and then want you to select a favorite to get a growler of. It is very similar to the concept of getting a “flight” at a brewery and then getting more of the one you liked the best.

  4. Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Light line recently launched a new marketing campaign of individualized packaging for its cans. The beer giant partnered with 28 of the 32 NFL teams to make team-specific can designs for the 2015-2016 season. Each design features a custom message printed on the can, unique to each team. Targeting the multi-billion dollar NFL industry and its loyal customer base will allow Bud Light to tap into fans already loyal to a certain team. After all, what fan wouldn’t buy his or hers team’s customized can on game day? Seems like a perfect example of the effects of beer packaging.

  5. I chatted with a Brooklynite at LexCo who remembers when canned/bottled beer was inconvenient and/or expensive, and where you could instead get a growler filled with draught beer at the local saloon so that dad could have beer with dinner. (Yes, he used “saloon,” noting that in his experience it was not widely used outside of Brooklyn…)

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