While many businesses continue to struggle, there are certain products that seem to flourish in the worst of times. One of these products is premium beer in the food and drink industry. Even as sales figures are plummeting across the nation, microbrew beer sales are up six percent. In a market where customers are watching every penny, this is an astounding figure.

A Budget Luxury

One possible reason that premium beer sales are increasing is that beer, even higher end beer, is an affordable purchase that nonetheless brings a great deal of enjoyment. People who drink boutique beers rank their complexity and flavor on par with a fine wine or liquor. With a bargain price tag, craft beer has a lot to gain when extra money dwindles. People still need to enjoy themselves occasionally in a recession—if anything, they need it more than ever. Craft beer offers an element of escape as well as an exclusive luxury feel, all at a recession friendly cost.

A Beer Success Story

Houston’s Saint Arnold Brewing Company is one of several companies flourishing. While many brands focus on the bottom line, Saint Arnold has relentlessly built a brand that revolves around flavor and brand personality. Customer loyalty is important to the brewery, which was one of the first companies to have an established web presence. The company’s owner quickly realized that this was a key part of his audience and encouraged them to join the e-newsletter mailing list. Now, 19,000 people receive news about the brewery twice a month, which may be responsible for well into six figures in annual sales. Revenue at Saint Arnold, which employs just 15 people, is steadily rising every year, while other industries struggle just to stay afloat.

Friend-Raising On the Web

The newsletter is not a sales tool, although it certainly leads to increased sales. The newsletter is used to promote company events and introduce new products. The owner has used it for diverse purposes such as selling discounted hockey tickets and getting loyal customers involved in relevant political issues. Because the newsletter is written with a fun and personal tone, customers feel bought into the brand and are more than willing to stay on the list. This has created a captive audience and a free source of marketing for the company. Because customer loyalty is one of the biggest motivations for beer choice, having an interested audience or target market is a huge advantage.

Saint Arnold is not the only craft beer finding success in the recession. However, this is not entirely a windfall for the industry. This upturn in sales and polarity comes on the heels of near industry-wide disaster just two years ago. Increases in the price of glassware as well as hops and malt, two of the key components of beer, strained small beer companies’ ability to stay competitive in a cut-throat market. The increase in sales came not a day too soon for the flagging trade.

The moral of this story? Offer a great product, get your customers involved, and don’t be afraid to change with the times. With companies all over the country flailing, you can get the success you want and deserve if you are smart about it, similar to how a now famous shoe brand is doing or what a company is doing against all odds.