Survey: Sense of community, style major factors for craft beer industry

CHICAGO — As craft beer continues to nudge its way into the spotlight, new research from Mintel reveals some heady findings on consumers and their favorite bold brews. Mintel reported that among consumers ages 25 to 34 years — which represents the segment's heaviest users — 70% say that the brand of craft beer reveals a lot about you and 66% reported say the style reflects the same. This sense of self translates into skyrocketing sales for the craft beer industry: Mintel estimates that sales of craft beer (and craft-style offerings) will climb to $20 billion in 2014.

"There is a strong sense of community in the craft beer world," said Mintel food and drink analyst Beth Bloom. "Consumers like to share knowledge with one another and are highly invested in the products that they choose. Not only that, but craft brands share exposure through collaboration, a practice almost wholly unique to the craft beer market. As such, tap rooms, bottle shops, and beer-garden-style breweries, where craft beer can be discovered, discussed, consumed on-site, and even purchased for at-home enjoyment, make for a complete, customizable experience. Craft beer is not only a beverage choice; it appears to be a lifestyle choice."

Mintel shared a few other statistics from its report:

  • Respondents from households with children are significantly more likely (61%) than those without (49%) to drink beer "to relax";
  • Craft drinkers from the Midwest are significantly more likely than respondents from other regions to support a particular brewery (29%). Western states are the most image conscious, with 57% agreeing that the brand of beer you choose says a lot about you and 47% saying it's a source of pride to try as many beers as they can. The consumption of craft beer is lowest in the South (16%); and
  • More than half (55%) of respondents report that they are willing to spend more money for craft beer, indicating that crafty beer (craft-style beer produced by larger brewers) provides major breweries an avenue for considerable growth.   

"The leading purchase driver among craft beer drinkers is style, pointing to a more discerning consumer base," Bloom said.  "Not only do craft drinkers consider themselves knowledgeable and adventurous, but they're eager to share this knowledge.  In that regard, the craft beer boom shares much in common with the wine renaissance over the past decade. They may not be brand loyal in the strictest sense, but they enjoy supporting local breweries and sharing in that sense of community that the smaller brewers have instilled. This presents vast opportunity for product trial and customization, which will keep the market interesting in the near future. Craft beer allows for people to express their individual sense of style while also allowing for experimentation...and that's a very exciting thing for a lot of people."

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