1. Drive home the craft message
The key to growing market share for small brewers is to drive home to consumers the message that unlike ‘crafty’ beers (produced by larger companies), their products are truly local, hand produced on a small scale and made by a small business rooted in the community.
"Consumers want to buy into values they share not just make a purchase. Your brewery’s values and ethos will become ever more important to drinkers, so having a voice on common issues is a must."
2. Think of the environment
As in other areas of F&B, consumers are increasingly conscious of their environmental impact and are starting to choose brands accordingly.
"Making your brewery as environmentally friendly as possible and using your environmental credentials in your brand marketing is becoming as important as using recyclable packaging and actively helping consumers to recycle more."
3. Communication is key
In the same way that brewers need to communicate their craft values to consumers, they also need to share the quality and characteristics of their beers.
"SIBA research suggests more should be done by brewers to communicate the flavour profile, ingredients and other qualities of different beers to consumers, who are very open to this education," says the organisation.
4. Focus on the female market
While women are not currently dominate craft beer consumers (only 6% of women drink beer more than once a week, compared to 28% for men) SIBA says that is changing.
"To help capture the female market, innovation in glassware and training for staff at retail needs to concentrate on smaller serves."
5. Think low ABV
In 2018, 22 breweries reported brewing low alcohol beers in the UK, six more than in 2017. And SIBA predicts this will continue to grow.
"The percentage of low alcohol beer production by SIBA members registered a considerable increase since last year at 5.3% - up from 3.4% in 2017 – and this number is likely to rise further in 2019 as health conscious consumer numbers grow."
6. Gluten-free growth
A growing number of consumers are actively seeking gluten-free food and drink: and this is by no means limited to coeliac sufferers. And brewers are responding accordingly.
"The percentage of breweries indicating gluten-free beer in regular production continues to grow compared to amounts reported in the previous surveys with 9% in 2018 (up from 4.4% in 2016 and 8.9% in 2017)," says SIBA. "This is another trend linked to the rise of the health conscious consumer."
7. Think vegan
Another dietary trend is the rising interest in plant-based products over animal products, and this is something brewers should be aware of.
"A poll of 500 licensees carried out in November found 24% think vegan food will be the biggest growth opportunity for them in 2019, showing just how important it could be for brewers," says SIBA.
8. Food for thought
More consumers are eating out than ever before, and research suggests millennials and Generation Z will be going out to eat more often than they do just to drink.
"Beer and food pairings will become a useful tool for brewers and should be included on labels, clips and menus as they already are on wine labels and menus."
9. Look to lager
Craft lager has been growing in the US: and the same is true for the UK.
"Craft lager is in significant growth and likely to continue in 2019, reflecting growing consumer demand for it at retail and the trend for premiumisation across all categories including lager."
10. Embrace ecommerce
Research shows 74% of craft beer drinkers research on mobile first before buying and 25% say they would like to be able to buy craft beer direct online.
"This makes ecommerce a significant opportunity for brewers," says SIBA.
The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) represents around 830 independent craft breweries in the UK, with its mission statement to 'deliver the future of British beer as the voice of British Independent Brewing'.
Its full British Craft Beer Report 2019 can be found here.
Pictures: getty/viewapart; getty/viewapart; getty/kanishbhardwaj