How Japan Is Selling Americans on Craft Beer

A marketing group that aims to extend the reach of Japanese foods globally is giving an extra boost to the country’s craft beer by putting on a series of West Coast events.

Introducing the public to a new type of product isn’t always easy, but a catchy slogan definitely helps.

It’s that approach that the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) is using to sell American consumers on Japanese beer. JETRO’s marketing arm, the Japan Food Product Overseas Promotion Center (JFOODO), is launching a new campaign with the trade group Japanese Craft Beer. Called “Drink in a New Language,” it aims to sell American craft beer fans on a Japanese variant.

Craft beer is a relatively new phenomenon in Japan, with regulations only making it possible since 1994, when smaller beer makers were allowed to receive brewing licenses. Since then, the sector has evolved significantly, with the original interest in German-style variants making way for IPAs, stouts, and seasonal pale ales, while also including ingredients unique to the country. The sector is just making its way abroad; early market research in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles found that 80 percent of the craft beer consumers JFOODO surveyed said they were interested in trying a Japanese craft brew.

As a result, the industry group has been putting on events along the West Coast, including a beer garden party in Los Angeles last month, to promote its craft brews. The organization also made an appearance at the National Beer Wholesalers Association’s annual convention, which took place last month in San Diego.

JFOODO Director General Hiroki Oizumi was optimistic about its chances.

“Japanese craft beer boasts unique attributes that are sure to appeal to American consumers,” Oizumi said in a news release. “Beer lovers will discover quality brews of great character that are handcrafted with extreme attention to detail and unique ingredients from all corners of Japan such as yuzu, sansho (Japanese pepper), or matcha.”

It’s one of the first initiatives by JFOODO, which was established only last year to help market Japanese food abroad. Earlier this year, the group launched Food and Sake, a campaign encouraging American and British foodies to embrace sake as a complement for meals. JFOODO has also targeted the Taiwanese market for exports of wagyu, a variant of Japanese beef noted for its unique marbling.

(via Japanese Craft Beer's Facebook page)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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