The downward slide of NB started before InBev, so this is one thing big beer can’t be blamed for.
Brewing TV, and all the support videos and the general attitude of being fun, and informative, are what finally landed me as a customer. I was a loyal customer because of their community. But they gave up on that. Their attempt to resurrect Brewing TV into an infomercial format was almost a slap in the face.
So they wanted to be business focused, that’s fine, but they didn’t replace that “community supporter” focus with anything compelling. Frankly their online presence is nothing special. They’ve grown to a bazillion kits, but last time I placed an order with them (6 months?) I was still unimpressed with their overall cost and shipping timeline.
What I would like to see is a “build your own recipe kit” but somehow that’s beyond them, even though it’s essentially the central requirement of every LHBS to be able to walk in with a recipe, and walk out with grains, hops, and yeast. At one point NB announced some sort of team-up with Brad and BeerSmith to do just that; it sounded like upload your recipe from BeerSmith, get a UPS delivery with the kit. It would have been freaking awesome, but that just sort of died before happening.
The only thing that still has them on my list of businesses I would like to support and see succeed is this forum. And frankly, most of what’s good here, is not really their direct doing; this forum has somehow remained special under their benign neglect.
I think AB’s problem is that they didn’t shake things up at NB. You would think they have enough brain-power in the marketing department to have tried SOMETHING. I still have nothing but well wishes for NB, but they need to adapt their business model or they’re going down for good.