Power Hour: Flavor, Freshness Drive Craft Purchases


The Brewers Association, together with market research firm Nielsen, today presented the findings of their jointly produced “Craft Insights Poll,” which looked at the purchasing habits of craft beer drinkers.

Fielded in early June, the 20-minute online survey solicited answers from 1,000 “regular” craft beer drinkers that consume craft products at least several times per year.

The goal, according to representatives from the two groups who spoke to BA members during a “Power Hour” webinar this afternoon, was to explore consumer drinking habits, including: consumption frequency and amount, perceptions of quality and freshness, venue and occasion choices and package preferences, among other topics.

Here’s what they found:

  • 54 percent of respondents said they drink craft beer at least once per week
  • 83 percent of craft beer drinkers regularly consume imported beer; 80 percent regularly consume spirits and 79 percent regularly consume wine. Only 41 percent, meanwhile, regularly consume cider while just 37 percent said they regularly consume flavored malt beverages
  • 49 percent of “weekly” craft beer drinkers said they are drinking more craft beer compared to a year ago while just 7 percent are drinking less.
  • 65 percent of respondents said “more variety” was the reason for increased consumption while 60 percent cited “better quality.” 58 percent, meanwhile, said they were looking for “more flavor options” (variety and flavor were differentiated by varying styles and actual flavors such as pineapple and mango in the survey).

So what matters most to consumers when purchasing craft beer?

  • 53 percent of regular craft beer drinkers said they would drink more craft if it were more affordable while just 33 percent said they would drink more if it were “better quality” and “more available.”
  • 80 percent of weekly drinkers, however, said they felt quality was “much better” or “somewhat better” compared to products they drank “over the past couple of years.
  • 99 percent of craft beer drinkers said that flavor was “very/somewhat” important when choosing a craft to purchase while 95 percent said freshness was key. Only 68 percent, however, said that bitterness was very/somewhat important, perhaps indicating that beer drinker penchant for super-hoppy offerings is starting to subside.

Other key takeaways:

  • 75 percent of weekly drinkers citing “local” production as an important decision-making factor, and 35 percent described “local” to mean “made within my county/region within my state.”
  • On average, regular craft beer drinkers consume about 3.5 different brands per month, a figure that skewed higher for older consumers and males (4.2 and 4.5 brands per month, respectively).
  • 45 percent of individuals making $100,000 or more per year said they “always or often” purchase brands they don’t know.
  • And cold beer matters: 44 percent of regular craft beer drinkers believe it is “essential” or “very important” to purchase beer that is cold. 59 percent of those drinkers said they want to enjoy it within the next 24 hours while 55 percent believe it stays fresh longer when kept cold.
  • 60 percent of all craft beer drinkers said they were more likely to purchase beer from a company after visiting the brewery.