I find this study interesting. I was skeptical of the study when I saw human interest articles about it in newspapers. The data was way too dumbed down in most articles for it to have any meaning. However, once you go to the website and look at their methodology it gives you more insight into what they found. I don’t think it has the practical uses that they think it does. What the study shows is the concentration of beer or wine businesses in a metropolitan statistical area (MSA). An MSA is usually a large city and the surrounding suburbs and counties.
The people who did this study tout it as a way to target a new business in an area where there is a lot of similar businesses. However, if you are a person thinking about starting a beer retail business (bar, bottle shop, etc.) in Denver, you already knew Denver had a high concentration of beer businesses. The study might help you target some of your marketing, but you are already in a saturated market.
Where it does help, is if you are someone thinking about starting a beer retail business, but are open to putting it anywhere. In that case, you would look to places like Richmond or Charlotte. First, look at the heat map. Richmond and Charlotte are both areas where they sit firmly in the middle of the study. They are both in lighter blue areas. That would suggest they have room for growth in the number of wine/beer businesses in general. Then you notice they both sit near areas with high concentrations of wine/beer businesses, meaning they are potentially underserved population centers that a savvy business could take advantage of with the right product and marketing.
Also, if you look at Charlotte, it is on the list as a “wine” city. The study points out that cities with high concentrations of one type of business have high concentrations of the other type of business. So, if Charlotte is a wine city by concentration of wine businesses, it stands to reason that it has a capacity for more beer businesses to come into the area.
This study is galling to people in Charlotte. Not because Asheville is third on the overall list, but because Raleigh is sixth on the big city list. However, it points to the fact that once Pop The Cap was passed 11 years ago, Raleigh and Asheville were the first areas where breweries started popping up. The explosion of breweries in the Charlotte area didn’t really start until about 5 years ago. If you consider the whole of the Raleigh MSA against the whole of the Charlotte MSA you will probably get the same number of breweries, but the number of retail establishments probably leans to Raleigh signifying a deeper influence of craft beer culture that is only solved with time.
I would be interested in seeing where Charlotte would rank in the same study when compared to MSAs with similar populations. I know Portland and Denver and Charlotte have similar populations, so Charlotte couldn’t rise above #3. I would bet it wouldn’t be much lower than that.