Part of the reason for that is that I don't really see Point filling a "quality craft" niche. I could be surprised, you never know, but I just can't imagine that, say, the "Six Hop IPA" would really hold up well against Stone, Three Floyds, Surly, Ale Asylum, Tyranena or even New Glarus.
Which isn't to say that Point shouldn't try, but as a business person I prefer to see businesses who understand themselves. It is not the usual case that a 153 year-old company redefines themselves. And Point has never been a "quality craft". Point serves a great area of the market - mass-market style beer that actually has taste and appeals to its consumers sense of locality. There is a huge market selling beer in quantity to people who want something better than Bud, Miller or Coors, but aren't interested in $10 six-packs and like to support local beer. Yuengling has made a killing in this market and Point could easily be another Yuengling.
So, when I see a CEO/owner commit in print to a direction that doesn't seem to recognize the company's core competency, I get worried. Joe Martino, interviewed by the Wausau Daily Herald:
I would say it would be to anticipate trends and try to get to the front of the line of what is going to be popular in the future. Evaluate and anticipate trends. Introduce brands that would be the next thing, and not be second or third in the marketplace. ... We can't wait until the wheat beer phenomenon comes around and then we have one.Stevens Point is not a "trend leader". We can argue this until you are blue in the face, but to insist on it is to show a sorely misplaced understanding of the craft beer market and Point's place in that market. As if to emphasize that misunderstanding Mr. Marino hopes that the "wheat beer phenomenon" comes soon - a comment which shows Mr. Marino's market research to be about 2 years behind the curve and completely usurps any credibility in the first part of that statement about wanting to be a trend setter.
Iin the craft beer industry, if you're looking at trends you're already behind it. The trend leaders are not out looking to set trends, they set out to experiment with beer and the trends find them. Indeed, one brewery is rarely always a trend setter - consumers find a brewery or beer that they like and that becomes the trend - breweries do not, indeed cannot, set the trend. [As a side note, if you want to understand this phenomenon, look into the concept of Brand Hijacking] And Point, as much as Mr. Marino protests, is not an experimental brewery. I'm not saying they can't be, I'm just saying that they aren't.
All of which isn't to say there can't be money in lagging on trends. Great Lakes does it very well. But if that's the game Point wants to play they need to compete with not only Great Lakes, but Bells, Summit, New Glarus, Goose Island and Sierra Nevada just to name a couple of big obstacles. And, while I can appreciate the aspiration I'm not sure Point is there yet. But neither is Yuengling, or Saranac and they seem to do alright for themselves.