Crafting a definition?

Despite all the publicity around craft beer, a generally agreed upon definition of craft beer remains as far off as ever, it seems.

Market researcher report Mintel discovered that 59% of those who buy alcoholic drinks in the UK believe it’s important that the alcohol industry defines just what’s meant by the term ‘craft drink’.

Mintel found that a third (33%) of British consumers buying alcoholic drinks find it hard to tell which brands are ‘craft’ and 30% say they don’t understand what’s meant by the term ‘craft’. Despite this over a third (38%) had purchased a craft alcoholic drink in the three months to November 2015 while 69% had bought mainstream brands of alcoholic drinks.

Using their own definition, a unique flavour is most widely used to define an alcoholic drinks brand as ‘craft’ (cited by 47%). Other factors include a brand using high quality ingredients (42%), one that takes more time or care in production (41%) and one which produces drinks in small volumes – for instance a microbrewer (41%).

And it seems that small remains beautiful for UK craft drinkers. Over a third (35%) who buy alcoholic drinks say that brands cannot be ‘craft’ if they’re acquired by large companies and 28% agree that brands cannot be ‘craft’ if they get too large in size.

Many are keen to support the little guys with over half (54%) of those who buy alcoholic drinks saying that buying craft alcoholic drinks is a good way to support small businesses.

“The lack of an industry-agreed definition has not hindered the growth of craft so far” said Mintel’s Senior Drinks Analyst Chris Wisson, “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.

“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.”


Craft definitionlow







Craft pricing

Mintel research finds that whilst there’s strong interest in craft alcoholic drinks, excessively high pricing may hinder the growth of the sector in the future. Two in five (41%) buying alcoholic drinks in the UK say that you often get less for your money with craft alcoholic drinks; for example smaller bottles for the same price while only 28% say that craft drinks are worth paying more for.

Mintel’s survey also discovered that just one in four (24%) beer buyers are willing to spend over £4 on a pint of craft beer in the on-trade. Even 21% are unprepared to go above £3 per pint. Only a small number of beer consumers (5%), who clearly have strong beliefs in craft credentials, are prepared to exceed £5 on a pint of craft beer.

“Many craft beers are justifiably more expensive than mainstream brands, reflecting economies of scale but also the ingredients used,” added Chris, “While consumer interest in seeing a wider variety of beers in the on-trade should benefit craft variants, overpricing poses a potential barrier to the continued growth of the segment.”

Today, purchasing craft brands is common across a number of drinks.

And it seems that many are committed to the craft cause as one in four (26%) buying alcoholic drinks say they like to go to craft drinks events and festivals whilst 23% say they prefer buying craft drinks over mainstream drinks, rising to 34% of men aged 25-34. The Mintel report shows that the most likely craft buyers are men with 46% of them buying a craft brand in the three months to November 2015.

For the majority of drinkers it seems to be more about what’s in the glass rather than who makes it. Approaching three quarters (70%) of those buying 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,” concludes Chris Wisson, “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.”

Mintel’s Attitudes towards Craft Alcoholic Drinks UK 2016 report is available to purchase priced £1,750.


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