While spirits – thanks in part to their diversity from white to dark – remain the most popular alcoholic beverage enjoyed by consumers in 2009-2010, the beer market is anything but flat. What might be surprising is that craft beers, with their emphasis on small, independent brewers dedicated to traditional/full flavor brews are driving market growth.

According to Mintel research published in Beer: The Consumer—U.S., December 2010, 33% of all beer drinkers aged 21 and up are drinking less imported beer because they’re drinking more domestic craft beer instead. It’s true that only a modest 13% of beer drinkers say they prefer domestic craft or microbrew beer (compared to 43% for domestic and 22% for imported), but about six in 10 respondents indicate they’d like to try them, and more than half would try more craft beers if they knew more about them.

Thanks to an upsurge in social media, and the trend toward local and sustainable products, craft beer’s popularity has grown substantially in the past five years. Mintel research indicates it’s the most popular with 25-34 year-olds, a market ripe for targeted marketing efforts. Efforts that educate the beer-drinking consumer as to heritage, ingredients, flavor, and a sense of inclusion in the craft beer community will be what consumers tap into for years to come.
Garima Goel-lal, Senior Consumer Analyst – Mintel / Oxygen

What does this mean for business?

A Social Tipping Point
It’s no surprise that beer has always been a social-based product. As such, social craft beers will always have a story to tell… a story that beer enthusiasts actually care to hear about and experience.

Craft brewers that offer the right mix of social media will connect their distinct target with their love of discovery, early adoption and sharing behaviors. These brewers will reap the rewards of increased audience, while inspiring viral demand.
Macro-Brewers – Beware of the ‘Local’
Here lies the cautionary tail of today’s micro-consumer. For beer enthusiasts, there is more to a craft beer than flavor, it’s the authentic brand attitude that beckons. Consumers feel a close connection to these craft brewers because they are authentic, loyal to their customers, have pride in brewing and are locally-owned.

So what does that mean for the MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch InBevs of the world? They need to adapt their lifestyle-branding message. They need to share more personal, intimate and interesting stories about who their brands and employees are. If they ditch the global corporate identities of their brands while localizing their brand images and voices, they’ll have a shot at lowering their market-share erosion.

 

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