Experiential drinking bolsters craft beer sales

By Beth Newhart contact

- Last updated on GMT

Drinkers are now more drawn to experience-based locations for their alcohol consumption than typical bars with no extra incentives. Pic: ©GettyImages/David Prahl / EyeEm
Drinkers are now more drawn to experience-based locations for their alcohol consumption than typical bars with no extra incentives. Pic: ©GettyImages/David Prahl / EyeEm

Related tags: Craft beer, Brewers, Brewery, Nielsen

After the boom and subsequent plateauing of craft beer sales in the US, on-premise experiential drinking establishments are managing to draw in new customers. Brewpubs, taprooms and game-based bars all saw a surge in popularity in 2018.

Three years ago in-store craft beer sales were seeing a sales growth increase of 12.9%. In-store craft beer sales took a knock between 2017 and 2018, declining 0.2%, yet still reaching $4.9bn. And according to Nielsen data, there are positive signs of sales growth within US on-premise establishments.

Looking for incentives

Drinkers are now more drawn to experience-based locations for their alcohol consumption than typical bars with no extra incentives. Consumers said they have visited experiential locations 'more often' in the last year, rather than 'less often', with 43% trying out game-based bars, 42% at a brewery tasting room, 42% at rooftop bars, 42% at premium bars and 41% at groce-rants (a cross between grocery market and restaurant or cafe).

“Despite the appeal of experiential drinking venues among the younger consumers, however, the desire to find new places to drink isn’t exclusive to Millennials. In fact, 15% of all US consumers of legal drinking age say they have visited a brewpub/taproom in the last three months, with 42% saying they had visited more than they did a year ago,”​ Nielsen said.

IPAs are the best-selling type of craft beer at US bars and restaurants with 24.9% of sales. Brewpub visitors are more likely to buy IPAs in the western (52%) and southern (49%) US than the midwest (46%) and northeast (44%). Seasonal beers take the top spot in the midwest (51%) and northeast (47%).

According to Nielsen, men (32%) are more engaged with and likely to visit local taprooms than women (26%). But overall, drinkers are showing up to brewpubs because they want to try something new and have a variety of options (55%).

Reasons to visit - and reasons to stay away

Today’s consumer demands many factors that go into a craft drinking experience. They enjoy supporting small businesses, which is perfect for local brewers. Consumers also want to know how their foods and drinks are made, and taprooms typically offer tours of their facility and brewing process. Convenience, flavor and sample tastings all play into the reasons more drinkers are turning to craft alcohol options.

Noted turn-offs that may be keeping the masses from turning up at their local brewery include big crowds (24%), high prices (23%) and an intimidating atmosphere for the average drinker who isn’t well-versed in craft beer (17%).

At least 50% of craft beer drinkers also visit other bars and restaurants for ‘reasons related to craft beer,’ outside of taprooms or breweries. Men and women both enjoy the craft drinking experience as something that is higher quality than other alcoholic beverages (33% vs. 23%).

“The craft beer experience is now much more than just the physical act of drinking craft beer. Tasting rooms and brewpubs provide an opportunity for consumers to engage with the culture of craft beer, and right now, there is a golden opportunity to engage with drinkers in a memorable, meaningful and interactive way,”​ Nielsen said.

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1 comment

Hong Kong Is Seeing Similar

Posted by Ash,

The Craft Beer Scene in Hong Kong reflects this very much, so much I wrote an article about it - https://bit.ly/2EunhXI

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