What your artisan food business can learn from the craft beer revolution

26 June 2018

Driven by its fans, the market for craft beer has officially exploded. Its popularity is soaring and a new report from DSM looks at what’s driving the trend. However, it isn’t just brewers who should take a close look at the trend. The findings chould be a valuable insight for your artisan food business too.

The report, undertaken for DSM, surveyed 3,300 craft drinkers in seven markets: the US, UK, Belgium, Spain, France, Italy and the Netherlands. It highlighted the following five key trends.

1. More people are drinking craft beer

The under 30s are drinking the most. Of these, 64% say they drink more craft beer than two years ago and 45% drink it out of home at least once a week. This increase has gone hand in hand with a decrease in regular beer consumption with 56% of respondents saying they now drink less regular beer.

Business Director Beverages, Joana Carneiro says, “Perhaps the best news for the brewing industry is that we appear to have an emerging new generation of craft fans – and that represents a big opportunity for brewers around the globe.”

It’s important to be aware of the patterns and trends in your market. Many food and drink sectors – especially for premium products – have seen shifts towards more artisan methods and values.

2. Quality and taste are more important than price

For 75% of respondents, taste matters above all other factors when choosing a beer. Two out of three said that drinking craft beer feels more ‘special’ than drinking ‘regular beer’ and they were attracted to its premium image.

Increasingly, consumers are willing to pay more for tasty, high-quality products. We’ve seen it across a number of products, including clean label. The quality and taste are both implicit and explicit aspects of the premium product. So it pays to invest the time and effort in creating a superior product with clear, differentiated claims.

3. The importance of provenance and sustainability

For its fans, a key element of the appeal of craft beer is its provenance. The report found the term ‘locally brewed’ to be a trigger the majority of drinkers to buy a particular beer. However, consumers weren’t literally looking for locally-brewed beers; instead, it “seems to be more about intimacy than proximity”. So, local doesn’t mean down the road but regionally produced beers from around the world.

Half of the respondents believed that craft beer is more sustainable, and that a product advertised as being sustainable was more attractive. According to Mintel, ‘ethical/environmentally friendly’ was the number one claim by new craft beers launched last year.

For most food producers, provenance and sustainability can be two key routes to differentiating their product and engaging emotionally with consumers.

4. Craft drinkers are increasingly adventurous and open-minded

Fewer than half of the respondents said they were ‘quite loyal’ to a particular brand which means building brand loyalty is a tough challenge. The flipside of this is that they are loyal to the category and the approach – the mission of craft brewing as a whole – rather than necessarily being loyal to specific brands.

What all food and drink producers can learn from this is that they should have a clear idea of what consumers want from their products. Keep the appropriate USPs front-of-mind when you’re developing products to give you the best chance of differentiating from ‘mass-market’ options and gaining your own following.

5. Consumers think craft beer is here to stay

Some 80% believe that the popularity of craft beer is here to stay and the same amount say they will continue to experiment with new brands. The report states that for smaller brewers the growing consumer appetite for new craft experiences represents a considerable opportunity to grow their brands, expand into new markets, and ultimately to grab a larger slice of the pie.

As with any market growth, an increasing number of consumers increase their expectations for a category. Not only that but established producers have already adapted to the trend, absorbing some of the values into their product lines. What this means, it that smaller and start-up producers need to ensure the underlying quality of ingredients, sustainable processes and, of course, great taste are fundamental to their product.

If you want to find out how we balance claims, cost and quality when developing innovative food and drink products, contact Froghop today.