Foresight Factory, a London-headquartered consumer analytics company, followed social media activity over a 12 month timeframe (thus evening out seasonal trends).
It acknowledges that following social media trends does not equate to an exact science: but points out that it can give a good impression of what today’s consumers want.
“We understand that people share the things that make them look good, seeking out the best moments, funniest quotes and most enviable pastimes to share with others online.
“In other words, social media may not always truthfully reflect everyday life but rather an aspiration of how we would like to be perceived by others. This is why we use social media analysis to shine a light on those behaviours that consumers want to adopt and to be associated with - in the knowledge that many will turn aspiration into (commercial) reality too.
“We believe such insight can drive NPD and competitive advantage.”
1) Travel: relaxation and exploration
Foresight Factory observes a common theme of beer and travel, with a large volume of posts during the peak travel seasons of July, August and December.
“Consumers balance and offset their indulgence with healthier habits elsewhere, creating moments of pure indulgence balanced by restraint at other times. It is unsurprising that holidays fall into the former and are associated with a rise in alcohol consumption.
“Indeed for some consumers a beer actually creates a holiday feeling and marks the start of a holiday. Meanwhile some consumers are keen explorers and use their travel to try new beers and flavours. These consumers mention brewery tours and frequently are keen foodies too.”
People often post about brewery visits or use common hashtags such as #foodie or #explore. However, for most people the focus is on relaxation and enjoyment.
Foresight Factory suggests thinking about how to target visiting consumers over holiday periods, and about associating brands with key travel emotions such as exploration or relaxation.
2) Food pairings
Food pairings for beer continue to gain traction among consumers – conversations on social media on the subject have grown by 147% over the last two years.
While wine and food pairings are often perceived as being governed by strict rules, most beer and food pairings are relaxed and encourage consumers to experiment to find the flavors they like themselves.
“The main foods associated with beer are chicken, cheese, burgers, barbecue, curry and pizza. They tend to be more informal foods, often posh fast food, with food trucks and street food commonly mentioned, perhaps due to the fact that beer remains a cheaper and more casual alcohol than wine. Cheese and beer pairings are also popular with some arguing that beer is better suited to cheese than wine.”
Twitter users who talk about food pairings are naturally interested in other elements of cuisine: showing 332x more interest in outdoor grilling and barbecues than the rest of Twitter, for example; or 100x more interest in chefs and food trucks.
Foresight Factory advises beer brands to explore foods that pair well with their beers and communicate these to consumers: or consider developing partnerships with food brands.
3) Hops rising
Conversations about hops are growing, suggesting there is an appetite for more bitter and complex flavors like hops.
“Driving the growth of craft beer has been a consumer desire for products that feel authentic, not mass market, and this leads to a growth in the popularity of unusual flavours which mark a product as craft: hoppyness being one of them.
Consumers are starting to use more technical terms, such as describing the hops or the IBU of their favourite beers, and consequently will appreciate the use of more technical language in marketing communications to describe the flavour and intensity of beer.
The demographic most interested in hops are those aged over 35 years old, and are more likely to be male than female.
4) Sunday Funday
Foresight Factory has seen a ‘modest rise’ in posts that actively call out Sunday as a drinking occasion, riding on the popularity of the concept of ‘brunch’.
“We suggest consumers are keener to share this habit than before. The concept of Sunday Funday has risen in popularity over the same time, the practice of continuing weekend fun into Sunday. It typically features day drinking, often starting early with brunch.”
It also stems from consumers’ desires to ‘turn the ordinary into an occasion’.
“Drinking on an atypical day also gives a sense of extending the weekend and fitting as much fun in as possible - as well a sense of misbehaviour related to drinking on an inappropriate day, perhaps without heed for a hangover on Monday morning.
“This behaviour may also be as a result of shifting lifestages which has created a generation of consumers in their 20s who are not yet having kids and therefore still have time - and spend - for boozier leisure occasions.”
Those who talk about Sunday beer drinking on Twitter are also more likely to be interested in blogging, cocktails, food trucks, celebrities and food and drink that other Twitter users.
5) Proper glassware
An increasing number of people are interested in glassware, believing that the correct glass enhances the drinking experience. Such people use this interest as a way to demonstrate their passion and knowledge about beer.
“This points towards an awareness of the experiential side of beer drinking which goes beyond flavour and temperature. Beer experts claim different glasses affect the formation and retention of head as well as enhancing the aroma of certain beers.
“Investing in proper glasses to drink beer at home has also become a way to show off your craft beer passion. While other alcohols like wine and cocktails have long had specific glassware for different varieties, beer has not traditionally and this points towards growth in the appreciation and status of beer within the alcohol category.”
Laura Dennehy, Head of Content Solutions at Foresight Factory, says these top five trends can offer commercial insight into how to reach beer consumers.
“For those in the business of beer, these findings point the way to all kinds of opportunities where they can look to better meet consumer’s consumption habits and desires," she said.
“For example, the food-pairing trend provides an opportunity to explore which foods pair well with your own beer and communicate that to consumers, enhancing their own experience of your product. Partnerships with food brands to bring this to the fore could also be an exciting option.
“Either way, it’s an incredibly exciting time to involved in beer, whether as casual drinker, enthusiast, or business person.”
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