Mintel: Craft Beers Have Untapped Opportunities

Sam Adams Craft Beer The recession-impacted beer market began to recover this year -- and growth opportunities for domestic craft beers look particularly promising, according to new research from Mintel.

Spirits barely edged out beer as the most popular alcoholic beverage during 2009-10, but beer volume losses are slowing. The number of beer drinkers reporting that they are drinking less beer has decreased since 2009, the research firm reports.

And while domestic and imported beers remain the #1 and #2 choices, respectively, 33% of all beer drinkers report that they are drinking less imported beer because they are instead drinking more domestic craft beer.

Just 13% of beer drinkers currently express a preference for domestic craft or microbrew beers, compared to 43% for domestic and 22% for imported. However, 59% say that they like to try craft/microbrew beers, and 51% say that they would try more of these if they knew more about them, Mintel found.



"Craft beers have increased in popularity in the past five years, and have enjoyed a boost in their consumer base," confirms Mintel senior analyst Garima Goel Lal. "Craft beer is most popular with the 25-to-34 crowd," so brewers "would be wise to target this demographic and educate them more about artisan beers," she stresses.

Price is also an obstacle: 41% of beer drinkers say they only enjoy craft/microbrew beers as a "treat" because these brews are expensive, and 29% actually report drinking less craft beer than they did a year ago because of the price.

Still, among those who report drinking more beer in general than they did a year ago, 29% say they're drinking more craft/microbrew beer as an "affordable luxury."

Looking at beer overall, Mintel confirms that packaging remains a critical part of the purchasing decision for consumers. Fully 63% prefer a bottle, versus 20% who prefer cans, 8% who prefer draft beer served from a large container, and just 2% who prefer beer served from a keg.

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