Craft Beer Innovation in the United States

Although per capita beer consumption is trending slightly downward in major markets like China, Russia and the United States, some segments are growing and literally exploding with innovation. In the United States, much of this innovation is centred in the still growing craft beer segment. There are now 6700 craft beer companies in the market that collectively account for almost 15% of the category’s volume. Much of this growth continues to come from IPA style beers, but craft brewers are also experimenting with all kinds of processes and ingredients to produce novel entrants in the segment. Research Strategy Group international used our crowd intelligence platform to ask US consumers about some of these category trends.

One of the most notable trends is around barrel aging of beer, whether it be in spirit or wine casks. Our crowd intelligence consumers indicated that there was a 57% probability that this trend would generate big sellers in the next few years. Those who were less positive appeared concerned about flavouring from the casks overwhelming the expected taste of the beer.

A number of craft brewers are also working to add various fruits, vegetables, savoury elements and spices to beer varieties. Some are even trying the additive of wine yeasts and other wine ingredients to beer varieties. In general, consumers believe that the introduction of natural ingredients in beer can result in success in the marketplace (73% probability). However there does appear to be limits to what consumers will accept as an additive to beer. For example, there is only a 30% probability that kombucha flavoured beer would be seen as a big seller within two years.

Attracting more women to the beer category has been a longstanding objective for brewers. The development of the craft segment over the last 30 years has helped somewhat with this challenge. The recent explosion of innovation and introduction of novel ingredients and taste profiles should help in this regard. In fact, our crowd intelligence consumers generated a high (91%) probability that the trial of craft beers will continue to grow in 2019.

All in all, much of this innovation and experimentation is designed to attract new drinkers to the category and broaden the consumption patterns of existing drinkers. Time will tell if this can halt the slow erosion of overall category consumption.

For more information on how we can help you achieve more insight and growth in this sector  please contact Jim Peterson   or Chris Wiggins