Most consumers judge a craft beer by its packaging, Nielsen finds

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

The majority of buyers are swayed by craft beer packaging with 70% making purchasing decisions standing at the store shelf. ©iStock/Neuevector
The majority of buyers are swayed by craft beer packaging with 70% making purchasing decisions standing at the store shelf. ©iStock/Neuevector

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The craft beer shelf is getting more crowded with 1,800 new product launches in the category last year, making packaging and labeling one of the primary purchase influencers for craft beer consumers, according to Nielsen.

The abundance of choice has led to 66% of American craft beer consumers saying that they are either “very”​ or “extremely”​ likely to buy craft beer based on its packaging or label, according to Nielsen’s Craft Beer Category Design Audit.

More than two-thirds (70%) of craft beer buyers make their purchasing decisions at the shelf rather than in advance, underscoring the importance of having visually appealing packaging to capture a consumer’s attention.

The audit also revealed that 71% of craft beer buyers said that they prefer to try new brands with eye-catching packaging and women are more likely to be swayed by packaging design than men (75% vs 66%).

Standing out visually

Among the packaging features evaluated, including logo/brand name, bottle shape, and label color scheme, the beer carrier design ranked as having the strongest on-shelf impression with 43% of consumers saying that the box is a feature they notice first when shopping for craft beer.

Information about where the beer was produced came in second with 43% saying it sways their purchase decision; bottle color scored the lowest at 22%.

Nielsen also found that consumers tended to engage most with illustrations, logos, and unusual package carrier graphics than copy or label claims. However, brands that did not feature hops imagery on its packaging were found to be more striking to consumers.

Similarly, heritage and brewing claims did not have as strong an impact on craft beer purchases as the graphics. 

Be consistent

Establishing well-recognized packaging that engages with consumers is part of the branding journey for craft brewers and can take decades to perfect, Tony Figoli, former art director for Ninkasi Brewing, said at the Craft Brewers Conference in April.

“A brand is more than just a logo; it has to speak to your company,”​ he said. “If you’re not a hipster brand, you shouldn’t have a hipster label.”

Figoli called out the longevity of Sierra Nevada’s label, which has maintained its core illustrations and typography since 1980 and suggested that craft brewers err on the side of consistency when it comes to packaging design. 

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1 comment

Craft Beer packaging

Posted by Robert L Gary,

It is to bad that Ms. didn't show some of the outstanding labels on Craft beers in cans.

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