Survey: Beer Drinkers Getting Bored With the Taste of Light Beer

It’s IPA Day today. That’s a whole day for a popular craft beer style. Must mean something, right?

Many young beer drinkers describe Bud Light and others like it as "watery."

How about it’s more evidence of the craft beer industry’s continuing growth — one underscored by a report from research firm Consumer Edge Insight that indicates the ballooning preference of consumers for heavier beers. That’s shown not through a lineup of even more craft beer style holidays, but through a decline in consumers’ taste for light beer, long the best-selling premium style.

“Our latest consumer research reveals some serious warning signs for the premium light segment,” David Decker, the president of Consumer Edge Insight, said in a release. “After a long period when these domestic premium light brands dominated the US beer industry, many beer drinkers, particularly younger ones, are finding that they prefer the stronger and more varied tastes of imports and craft beers instead. This suggests that the recent weakness in share trends for the big premium light flagship brands is likely to continue.”

CEI’s Alcoholic Beverage DemandTracker conducted a survey of U.S. adults who consume any type of alcohol at least once a week or more. Some of the more interesting responses are below:

  • 27 percent of the respondents said that the main reason for less consumption of premium light beer brands is because they’re “getting tired of the taste.” 21 percent said the main reason is that they’re “consuming more of other types of beer.”
  • 40 percent of 21 to 27 year olds and 39 percent of Hispanics said that they drink premium lights less often because they’re getting tired of the taste.
  • As of June 2013, 28 percent of beer drinkers named a premium light brand as their favorite beer. This number dropped from 32 percent one year ago.
  • 30 percent of beer drinkers named an import brand as their favorite beer. 15 percent of beer drinkers named a craft brand as their favorite beer, compared to 13 percent last year.
  • 30 percent of beer drinkers said that they perceive the premium light segment as “tasting great,” compared to 33 percent one year ago.
  • 37 percent of beer drinkers describe the premium light segment as “watery,” compared to 34 percent one year ago.

Julia Herz, the craft beer program director of the Brewers Association, said that within the beer industry, craft owns about 10.2 percent of the dollar share and about 7 percent of the volume share. She said that by 2017, the Brewers Association projects that with continued expansions and new brewery openings, the craft segment will own 10 percent of the industry’s volume share.

“We are in the middle of a flavorful beer revolution,” Herz said.

Americans like choice and variety, Herz said, and these desires comply with the nature of the craft beer industry, which has seen “trade-ups” from the former domestic beer drinkers and “trade-across” consumers from the wine and spirits industries.

Along with the diverse offerings of the craft industry, Herz said that consumers are connecting to local brands that brew just down their street.

Variety and locality contribute to numbers like the ones above, and others circulating the rooms at craft beer conferences and the offices of investors.

“You’ve got all this evidence to show that no longer does the light American lager satisfy every beer lover’s occasion,” Herz said.

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