Written by Wendy Culverwell for Portland Business Journal
The sky’s the limit for craft brewers.
Mintel International, a Chicago-based market research firm, doesn’t come out and say that, but it might as well have based on the conclusion of a statistics-packed report titled “Craft beers bubble over in popularity,” released just in time for the new year.
Mintel counsels craft brewers to target untapped markets by reaching out to women, young adults and Hispanics.
The strategy has worked for Blue Moon, a craft beer brand, that has bucked industry trends and attracts more female drinkers than men with its gender-neutral marketing.
Young adults (ages 21 to 34), meanwhile, are curious about craft beers and learning more about them, Mintel said. Educate them about food pairing and brewing in general and win fans for life.
Hispanics in the U.S., however, with their growing population and outsized income growth, are the most promising demographic, according to Mintel. The U.S. Hispanic population over the age of 21 is expected to grow 17.6 percent to 35.2 million by 2015; its purchasing power will increase 36 percent to $1.3 trillion, faster than any other group.
Overall, the industry has plenty of room to grow. Just 13 percent of current beer drinkers prefer craft beers or microbrews. But nearly six out of 10 said they want to try them and almost as many people said they would try them if they knew more about them. That adds up to plenty of interest among consumers if brewers will reach out.
“It seems consumer education is the key to cultivating growth in the craft/microbrew market,” Mintel concluded.
Oregon brewers are on it. In November, Terry Michaelson, CEO of Craft Brewers Alliance Inc., the Portland-based owners of the Redhook, Widmer Bros. and Kona brands, told analysts the company is increasing marketing to maintain its brand and will launch new branding programs in early 2011.
Each brand has its own story, style and image and Michaelson said the company (Nasdaq: HOOK) is ready to invest the resources in telling them.
Mintel’s survey of 901 beer drinkers found 43 percent favor domestic brands with Budweiser and Miller being the most popular. Imported beers such as Heineken and Corona accounted for 22 percent of the market, while domestic craft beers and microbrews trailed with 13 percent. The balance had no preference.