When I say Oktoberfest, you say...

...beer, of course! When did Oktoberfest become so popular globally? It seems to have become the Halloween party for grown-ups! Ive been to two Oktoberfests this year and other than the beer brands and the food, you couldnt tell them apart. One was in Brasov, a town nestled in the heart of Transylvania (which also happens to be my hometown) and another one in Zurich. So what is it about Oktoberfest that made this event a quasi-global brand?

Oktoberfest in Brasov

For me, Oktoberfest is about good, wholesome fun with others, friends and strangers alike. You mix in German music, a tent decorated in Bavarian colors, lederhosen, and sausages and, of course, beer and you get the perfect party setting. There is plenty of room for local variations too. What I liked in Brasov was that they opened the event to families and they had plenty of my favorite foods.

Oktoberfest in Zurich

And while the Oktoberfest experience is by design unique and individual, the desire to be part of a global movement is equally relevant for me. I see a happy duality between wanting to experience or have something unique and at the same time be part of the global village. This is why I fundamentally believe that craft beer and mass brands can coexist. Craft beers are constantly redefining the unique, which I find fun and exciting. Mass beer brands on the other hand focus on tapping into our common core.

Oktoberfest is another X element that gives beer its edge. Munich has made this event into a two-week celebration that attracts 6 million visitors each year. If somebody would run up a count of all Oktoberfest participants globally, it would probably rank among the top 5 events that the world finds worth attending.

Of course, theres always the danger that this is just another fashionable thing that will disappear in time. But for that to happen, our social DNA would have to undergo some serious changes, like us no longer socializing face to face but rather doing it all online. I cannot imagine a virtual Oktoberfest with virtual beer but, of course, I couldnt have imagined Facebook either so maybe we need to keep our minds open and never say never.

For the foreseeable future however, beer and Oktoberfest are here to stay. And I, for one, can only say Prost to that!

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