Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Craft drinks: high preference, low understanding

The ‘craft’ market has revolutionised the alcoholic drinks industry over the past decade, but it seems that many drinkers are still unsure what the term means.

New research from Mintel in the UK highlights strong demand for alcoholic drink companies to create a definition, as 59 per cent of those who buy alcoholic drinks say it’s important that the alcohol industry defines what is meant by the term ‘craft drinks’.

Today, a third of Brits who buy alcoholic drinks say it is hard to tell which brands are ‘craft’ and 30 per cent say they don’t understand what the term ‘craft’ means. Despite this, 38 per cent of Brits bought a craft alcoholic drink in the three months to November 2015.

When it comes to their own definition, a unique flavour is most widely used to define an alcoholic drinks brand as ‘craft’, cited by 47 per cent of Brits. Other factors include a brand that uses high-quality ingredients (42 per cent), takes more time or care in production (41 per cent) and one which produces drinks in small volumes: for instance, a microbrewer (41 per cent).

It also seems that small is beautiful for craft drinkers. Over a third of Brits who buy alcoholic drinks say that brands cannot be ‘craft’ if they are acquired by large companies and 28 per cent agree that brands cannot be ‘craft’ if they get too large. Indeed, many Brits are keen to support the little guys, as more than half of those who buy alcoholic drinks say that buying craft alcoholic drinks is a good way to support small businesses.

Mintel Senior Drinks Analyst Chris Wisson says the lack of an industry-agreed definition has not hindered the growth of craft so far, but it has led to the term being misinterpreted and, increasingly, misused.

“Consumers are likely to become increasingly demanding of brands which claim to be ‘craft’, and the onus is on these brands to ensure that they can provide clear evidence of their craft credentials,” he said. “The uncertainty around the term dilutes its ability to differentiate brands or justify a higher price. This suggests the need to reference other, more tangible, points of difference to capture customers’ attention.”

For the majority of drinkers, it seems it is more about what is in the glass rather than who makes it. Mintel found 70 per cent of Brits who buy alcoholic drinks say that taste is more important than the producer of the drink.

“The importance attached to taste is likely to be driving the interest in craft-style products from larger drink producers,” Mr Wisson said. “This suggests that the large drinks companies can tap into the craft movement either by producing their own craft products or by acquiring smaller companies, with their success ultimately likely to be determined by the actual quality of the drinks.”

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