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Craft beer: The 'it' beverage

Craft beer: The 'it' beverage

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Despite the impact the economic downturn has had on spending in many categories, craft and craft-style beers are going gangbusters. According to Mintel, sales of craft beer nearly doubled between 2007 and 2012, from from $5.7 billion to $12 billion.

The research firm expects that growth trajectory to continue through 2017, tripling to an $18 million chunk of the market.

 “The growth rates seen by craft beer are impressive, especially during a period when domestic and imported beers have shown a flat to declining performance,” says Jennifer Zegler, a beverage analyst for the firm.

“Unlike its domestic and imported beer counterparts, craft beer has been able to defy overall beer market trends and continue expansion during the economic downturn and subsequent slow recovery. While the craft and craft-style beer category remains a small segment of the $78 billion U.S. beer industry, the category has been able to stabilize the overall beer industry, which has experienced volume declines in the domestic and imported beer categories since 2008.”

Mintel’s numbers suggest that the sweet spot for craft beer is 25- to 34-year-olds. Overall, just over a third of U.S. consumers drink craft beer, but fully half of older Millennials (25-34 year olds) do so. And craft beer also wins on taste. Some 43 percent of both Millennials and Generation Xers say they think craft beer tastes better than domestic beer, compared to 32 percent of Baby Boomers. Nearly half (45 percent) of consumers claim they would try more craft beers if they knew more about them.

“Despite the variety of beer releases created by craft breweries, craft beers are not yet everyday beer choices for most drinkers due to a lack of understanding about their taste profiles. To continue growing, craft beer must be its own best advocate and expand appeal beyond Millennials who are most likely to consume craft beer. An additional barrier is lack of knowledge. Craft brewers need to focus on education through tastings and classes that inform consumers about the differentiation in flavor between craft beer and other alcoholic drinks,” Zegler explains.

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