The consumer love affair with craft beer appears far from over, with industry experts predicting the next generation will be “drinking less, but better” – choosing quality products such as local independent craft beers over mainstream, mass-produced brews.
As the Millennial generation (currently aged 23-38) gives way to Generation Z (currently aged under 22) more people will be opting for quality, independent craft beer – at least that’s the prediction of the SIBA British Craft Report 2019, a ground-breaking study of the current beer market in the UK.
“All evidence points towards a shift in drinking habits towards quality, and away from the volume drinking of years gone by. It will come as welcome news to the independent brewers who produce flavoursome, interesting craft beers. There is also a need for creating an experience around beer – whether that is tasting flights of beers or pairing beer with food, or running interesting one-off events or games tournaments. We’re seeing brewers be more adventurous in what they offer young beer drinkers – in response to the trend for drinking less, but better.”Caroline Nodder, Editor of SIBA British Craft Beer Report 2019.
As part of the SIBA Craft Beer Report the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) also surveyed their own independent craft brewery members, of which they have around 750 across the UK, finding young people are clearly drinking less than they were a few years ago. Between the 2017 and 2019 surveys the number of 25 to 34-year-olds drinking beer more regularly than once a week fell from 26% in 2017 to 16% in 2019. “Even allowing for seasonal variation – as the 2017 survey was done in August when beer consumption is generally higher, compared to February for the 2019 survey – this does support other research which suggests millennials and the following generation, Generation Z, will drink alcohol less frequently and in lower volumes.”Caroline added.
However consumer trends research from Mintel suggests younger consumers increasingly value and will seek out ‘genuine’ products with heritage, a hand-crafted nature and trusted values – all areas where independent craft beer has a proven track record. The Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) from September 2018 also found that 45% of consumers were willing to pay more for craft and agreed that ‘craft is worth the extra money’.
Pairing beer with food has also become increasingly popular, particularly amongst young people, with consumer research SIBA commissioned in 2016 through M&C Allegra finding younger consumers are drinking more beer in restaurants than other generations. The 25 to 34-year-olds scored strongly for drinking beer in restaurants, highlighting the greater interest among younger consumers in pairing beer with food, with 18 to 24-year-olds also scoring highly.
Independent craft brewers are taking notice of the trend too, with brewers across the UK going to lengths to attract and keep younger customers – from targeting music and gig venues, to organising table-tennis and foosball tournaments, brewers are keen to engage with young people and the next generation of beer lovers.