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Generation Gap Appears In Reaction To 'Craft' And 'Artisan'

Beverage ads often tout products that are "craft" and "limited edition," while packages are emblazoned with words like "handcrafted" and "artisan." But what do these words actually tell consumers about the products? And what influence might they have on purchases?

"Handmade/handcrafted" tops the provided list as a mark of quality, with nearly six in ten (59%) adults saying it strongly or somewhat communicates that a product is high quality, according to a recent Harris Poll.

"Artisan/artisanal" and "custom" are the next best messengers of high quality, with 46% of adults saying each communicates this, followed by "craft" at 44% and "limited edition" at 41%. Just 31% say the same of "small batch." The Harris Poll surveyed 2,225 U.S. adults surveyed online between May 20 and 26. Full results of this study, including data tables, can be found here.

When asked to estimate how much influence each description wields over their purchasing decisions, "handmade/handcrafted" shows the strongest potential sway, with roughly half (48%) estimating it has some or a great deal of influence on their decisions.

Over one-third say the same for "limited edition" (37%), "custom" (36%), or "artisan/artisanal" (36%). Just under one-third of adults (32%) estimate that "craft" has at least some influence, while "small batch" again trails the rest of the field, with one-quarter (25%) saying it has at least some influence on their purchases.

But Americans find the use of "limited edition" to be anything but limited. Nearly two-thirds (64%) believe this term is overused in marketing for food or beverage products. Half of adults say the same of "handmade/handcrafted" (52%), "craft" (51%), "artisan/artisanal" (51%), and "custom" (50%), while smaller percentages say the same of "small batch" -- only one-third (32%) feel the phrase is over-used, while 37% say it is neither over- or under-used.

Some descriptions are just better suited for one product over another. The beer category is the best to tap into the "craft" description. When presented with an extensive list of food and beverage categories and asked which fits with each label, just over half (52%) of drinking-age Americans feel beer is an appropriate fit for "craft" -- the top selection by a wide margin. One-quarter say liquor/spirits/cocktails is a strong fit for "craft," while 20% say the same about wine and 27% don't see "craft" as an appropriate fit with any of the product categories tested.

"Handmade/handcrafted" may be best suited to foods on the sweeter side, as baked goods (46%), jam/jelly/preserves (45%), and chocolate/candy (43%) are all seen as appropriate fits by over four in 10 Americans. The items most seen as appropriate fits for "artisan/artisanal" descriptions are cheese (38%) and baked goods (36%), followed more distantly by coffee (23%).

Beverages prove to be good fits for both "limited edition" and "small batch," with three in ten Americans ages 21+ saying that wine (30% & 27%, respectively) and one-quarter saying liquor/spirits/cocktails (28% & 25%, respectively) are appropriate fits. All adults also agree soda/carbonated beverages (28%) are a good fit for "limited edition." Stepping away from the beverage category, 26% say jam/jelly/preserves is a good fit for "small batch" branding.

"Custom" shows the most diversity in responses, with 24% saying pet food and 23% saying coffee are appropriate fits. However, it should be noted that 39% say none of the food/beverage options presented are an appropriate fit for this choice.

Among the questions of high quality, influence on purchasing decisions, and overuse of the terms, key differences exist between generations. Millennials are more likely than their older counterparts to say "handmade/handcrafted," "craft," and "small batch" communicate that a product is high quality.

Furthermore, Millennials are more likely than all other generations to say "limited edition," "custom," "artisan/artisanal," and "craft" have at least some influence on their purchase decisions.

On the other hand, it's the older generations who are more likely to tout them as overused. Baby Boomers are more likely than Millennials and Gen Xers to say both "limited edition" (69% vs. 62% & 58%, respectively) and "craft" (57% vs. 47% & 49%, respectively) are over-used. Matures are more likely than Millennials and Gen Xers to say the same about "custom" (60% vs. 46% & 47%) and "small batch" (41% vs. 28% & 29%).

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