Craft beer here to stay say 80% of consumers

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Drinkers' definition: consumers defined craft beer as 'beer sold in small batches and sold through a microbrewery' (image credit: EddieHernandezPhotography/istock/
Drinkers' definition: consumers defined craft beer as 'beer sold in small batches and sold through a microbrewery' (image credit: EddieHernandezPhotography/istock/
Consumer demand for artisan beer is not likely to slow down any time soon, according to a new report from a global science company.

Royal DSM published The Craft Revolution in Brewing ​report, which surveyed 3,300 consumers in seven countries in Europe and the US, also stated that three quarters (75%) cited taste above everything else, including price, when they make their purchase decision.

About two thirds of consumers said they were attracted to craft beer because it is a premium, high-quality product.

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The same number said they felt drinking craft beer was ‘more special’ than drinking regular beer. Quality, therefore, is becoming the byword of the brewing industry today, according to DSM.

The report stated that in the past two years, just under half of the craft drinkers surveyed said they now drink more craft beer.

Just 6% of this group are drinking less craft beer. The greatest increase took place in those aged 18 to 30. This rise is eating into regular beer consumption with 56% of respondents saying they drink less regular beer now.

Craft drinkers value ‘locally brewed’ beer but this is less about where it originates from and more about how the product is made, the report revealed.

The phrase ‘locally brewed’ triggered the majority of the drinkers surveyed to buy a particular beer, but this was more about intimacy than proximity.

Craft ingredients

Some 87% of respondents said for them, craft was defined primarily, as a beer made in small batches and sold through a microbrewery.

The second most relevant definition for three quarters (75%) of those surveyed was a beer produced with fresh, local ingredients and available in a range of different product types.

However, the majority of drinkers expressed an interest in trying local beers from around the world and one third of these expressed a strong interest in trying new foreign craft beers.

The report also highlighted sustainability as what the craft revolution is all about. Half of respondents believed that craft beer was more sustainable and that a product being advertised as sustainable was more attractive.

Two out of three craft drinkers believed that craft ingredients were of a higher quality than those of regular beer.

The report outlined advice for brewers. For smaller brewers, it said: “The growing consumer appetite for new craft experiences represents a huge opportunity to grow their brands, expand into new markets and, ultimately, to grab a larger share of this lucrative premium segment.

“As the craft market grows, so too do the expectations of customers. And as the industry grows up, it will have more stakeholders to answer to, not least supermarkets and retailers with exacting standards.

“Our research reveals that craft beer is recognised, above all, for its quality. The big challenge facing small brewers is maintaining the quality, originality, consistency and authenticity of a product that will need to be produced in larger quantities, travel greater distances and sit on shelves or cellars for longer.

“The sooner they start exploring ways to achieve this, the greater advantage they will have in this new big craft revolution.”

Engaging fans

For larger brewers, the report advised: “The lack of strong brand loyalty from craft drinkers coupled with their desire to try new and exotic but not necessarily local beers, represents a fantastic opportunity to reach new customers through an established global supply chain underpinned by proven quality standards.

“The challenge is to continue engaging fans as a brand grows. The solution is staying true to the values that craft lovers hold dear.

“That means not only locally and ethically sourced ingredients, more sustainable, ‘lean brewing’ and non-wasteful production methods, and democratic brand values that represent the diversion and inclusion in our society today.

“In 10 years’ time, craft drinkers may be studying a label not only to learn the ingredients, but to see how the beer was actually made.

“What a competitive advantage this could be for big brewers who can make it happen and demonstrate the provenance (and credibility) of their craft beer.”

DSM food specialities director of beverages Joana Carneiro outlined the opportunities and challenges when it comes to craft beer.

She said: “DSM’s consumer research shows there is tremendous promise for the craft beer market, mostly due to the enthusiasm of craft beer fans.

“However, the popularity of craft beer and the demand for unique, authentic and premium beer varieties, presents a new reality for brewers large and small.”

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