Concerns of Craft Beer Bar Operators The Taihei members have traveled to 14 different prefectures and spoke to plenty of managers and owners about their issues within their areas and operations. So we felt it was appropriate to write an article to explain their concerns within the industry. Here is what the Taihei members heard while being out in the field. Craft Beer Pricing The main concern with new consumers entering is the price point, especially when there are all you can drink restaurants (with a time limit) and super cheap macro options. The number one comment from many beer operators is that there needs to be more education of how to justify the cost to new consumers in terms of quality and understanding the cost of making different styles. Market Saturation In recent years, there has been an explosion of new shops and breweries in the Kanto region and even in mid-size cities like Shizouka and Matsuyama have seen an increase in new beer operators. However, the issue is that the numbers of new craft beer consumers are not increasing quickly to meet the supply. There are also individuals who feel there will be a falloff in the popularity of craft beer in the coming years. Staffing Depending on the number of taps, menu size, and seating, staffing will range from a husband and wife duo, to a complete kitchen team with servers. Some beer operator owners are working six days a week because it’s becoming more difficult to hire new staff members with a shrinking population, especially for the larger establishments. It is also increasingly difficult to get highly knowledgeable people to help expand the craft beer market. Tap Marche Kirin’s Tap Marche has been aggressively introducing their system and their line-up all over Japan, sometimes next door to independent craft beer establishments. Some fear that it might cause a price war in some areas or changing the image of “craft”. To counteract this challenge, beer operators are educating their customers about what they are drinking to increase awareness and understanding of what independent craft beer is. Lack of Marketing To put it simply, small beer operators do not have a marketing budget and are hesitant to use restaurant listing services such as Hot Pepper and Tabelog, just to name a few. Social media has been a powerful tool for these shops to create buzz about their shop and to interact with their customers, but reaching out to a larger audience will continue to be a challenge. Final Note Opening a restaurant is difficult in any area and industry with staffing, tight margins, stiff competition, and providing superb customer service. Beer operators are on the front lines to support the industry as a collective, while supporting families of breweries who put their passion into their craft. With this in mind, Taihei and all of its members will continue to do their best to support beer operators, so make a toast to the beer operator in your favorite watering hole in any city the next time you see them.