With so many craft beers available in the market, it can be hard for a consumer to choose one. To differentiate themselves from the rest, brands are using their labels to help them stand out on the shelf or behind the bar, says Edward Hsyeh, U.S. analyst for Euromonitor International, Chicago. For example, if consumers peek behind the bar and see a craft beer with an interesting label, they might be enticed to try it, he says.

8-Bit can

8-Bit’s can includes an image of the 1980s arcade game character Pac-Man to add a touch of nostalgia, says Euromonitor’s Edward Hsyeh. (Image courtesy of Tallgrass Brewing Co.)

Most craft beer labels and packaging designs are not cutting-edge, Hsyeh observes. Instead, they often include a vintage or nostalgic feel, harkening back to an older time. For example, 8-Bit, a hop-rocketed American pale ale brewed by Tallgrass Brewing Co., Manhattan, Kan., includes an image of the 1980s arcade game character Pac-Man. As such, the craft brew was named the official beer of retro gamers, according to Tallgrass Brewing Co.

Another way to boost sales is to expand craft beer’s drinking occasions by offering it in more packaging formats. In fact, metal cans are growing in popularity in the craft beer market, Hsyeh notes. From a manufacturing standpoint, metal cans often are less expensive to produce and ship, he says. In addition, cans can be sold in more venues, including stadiums, and consumers can take them to places that do not allow glass bottles, says Sarah Theodore, global drinks analyst for Mintel, Chicago. Cans also are more portable than bottles and stay cold when chilled, giving the consumer even more options, she adds.

This year’s introduction of the Sam Can by The Boston Beer Co., Boston, might further fuel consumer interest in craft beer in cans, Theodore says. “It’s one of the most well-known craft beer brands in the United States, and it could really help consumers kind of come to accept craft beer in cans,” she says. “But obviously, there are several breweries that have been in cans for quite a while, and it certainly has not been a detriment to their sales.” For example, The Fat Cat Beer Co. LLC, San Diego, has offered the majority of its craft beer offerings in cans since 1995.

 Craft beer in cans accounted for 5 percent of volume and 15 percent of growth in the 52 weeks ending Sept. 14 in Nielsen-measured channels, according to Andrea Riberi, senior vice president of alcohol beverages for the New York-based company. In supermarkets alone, sales of six-packs and 12-packs of craft beer in cans grew 96.8 and 92.5 percent, respectively, in the 52 weeks ending July 14, Chicago-based Information Resources Inc. (IRI) reports.