What you need to know

The buzz around craft alcohol continues, the market attracting new entrants, both large and small. The mainstream role of these drinks is apparent in that three in 10 UK adults have bought what they consider to be craft alcoholic drinks, with ale/bitter the most widely bought type at 15%. However, the term ‘craft’ in itself carries little weight among consumers, putting the onus on craft brands to demonstrate to consumers the tangible unique proposition of their product.

Unique flavour and high-quality ingredients are the attributes most widely seen by consumers as important in making an alcoholic drink ‘craft’. Lagging some way is not being owned by a large company, cited by 31%, rising to 43% among craft buyers. The raft of acquisitions of craft brands by larger companies thus carries some risk of a backlash, Indeed, a quarter of craft buyers have stopped buying a favourite craft brand after it was acquired by a larger company.

On-shelf flavour profile labels and quality awards stand out as promising means for craft products to attract new users, encouraging purchase among 51% and 49% of alcohol buyers respectively. Collaborations between craft brands and larger companies are another possibility, appealing to 45% of alcohol buyers.

Products covered in this Report

There is no industry-wide accepted definition of ‘craft’ drinks, but craft brands are often associated with being made by companies which are small in size and independent. However, this definition could be questioned, particularly in view of the various takeovers of craft producers by larger companies over 2013-18. Instead, many consumers are defining craft drinks according to their own criteria, which will be explored in the report.

The Report covers all types of alcoholic drinks, but excludes soft drinks such as carbonated soft drinks and juices. The absence of an industry-wide definition of craft drinks means that a market size cannot be reliably calculated, and therefore none has been included in this report.

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