Wow, I read a great book this week called The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell. You guys and gals have probably already read it.
It's about social epidemics - i.e. what causes clothing trends to take hold, or a book to become a bestseller. The author cleverly summarises different bits of sociological research, to come up with an overarching theory of what causes epidemics to 'tip': namely i) the Law of the Few, ii) the Stickiness Factor and iii) the Power of Context.
There are obviously lots of applications for these theories (which you'll notice I haven't bothered to explain, principally because I'll make a mug of myself and totally trivialise a great book); but here and now let's use the Tipping Point to examine the possibility of a 'craft'* upsurge in Birmingham.
The Law of the Few
Could Birmingham sustain a craft beer bar? If so, why hasn't anyone opened one? Well perhaps there isn't a visible beer geek culture in the City. And if that is so, how do we turn the current level of interest into an epidemic of beer desire? Well, we need three people, or perhaps one who can perform three roles:
i) a Connector - someone who knows people. Lots of people. Someone who not only knows people, but is able to make, wait for it, connections based on the interests, skills and contacts of the people who are 'on their list'. Perhaps there is someone in the industry who is able to galvanise others and get people excited, or perhaps there is a lucid, focussed, driven person who can flick some switches, fiddle with some knobs and get people to see the great benefits that a new type of bar could bring.
ii) a Maven - someone who is fastidious in their research, who obssesses about being more knowledgable, but who also has an inbuilt urge to share their knowledge and educate others. I am certain that there are beer Mavens in Birmingham, itching to unload a big wad of beer love/passion/schooling on an unsuspecting public.
iii) a Salesman - someone with the gift of the gab, who knows the arguments and how to win them. If people need to be persuaded to sample new beers, new styles, new flavours etc, then a salesman (or woman) is the person to do it. Money could be a motivator here.
The Stickiness Factor
How enduring a product is beer. Quite enduring. But what about new and different (and possibly more pricey) beers? What will connect an unsuspecting Birmingham populous to these products which thus far have not reached our City? I don't actually know this one, or at least I don't have anything succinct enough to write here. Mail me for more details.
The Power of Context
What conditions in the local environment (the Birmingham beer drinking scene) will make it ripe for a 'craft' beer bar/explosion? Well, my guess at this one is that people need to know what they're missing. But how can this happen?
More importantly, is this post turning into a massive load of airy fairy drivel? Don't answer that.
In conclusion then, Birmingham is in need of a tipping point, to start the new beer revolution, which has already happened in Manchester, London, Sheffield, Newcastle, Leeds, Cambridge..... I promise to do my bit as a beer Maven, but I am unable to open a bar by myself. Please will all potential connectors please contact me so that we can recruit suitable salespeople, in order to provide products which will become stickier and stickier.
*we won't be getting into what this term actually means, other people have already done that.