Research by Mintel found that 30 per cent of Brits who buy alcoholic drinks don't understand what the term 'craft' means with suggested definitions including having a unique flavour (47 per cent), including high quality ingredients (42 per cent), taking more time or care in production (41 per cent) and producing drinks in small volumes, for instance a microbrewer (41 per cent).
The news comes as figures from The Society for Independent Brewers (SIBA) reveal that 80 per cent of independent brewers in the UK are expecting their turnover to increase in 2016 due to rising demand for craft beers.
Chris Wisson, senior drinks analyst at Mintel, said although the lack of an industry-agreed definition had not 'hindered' the growth of craft drinks so far, the lack of clarity meant the term was frequently being misinterpreted and misused. There are also calls from consumers for a definition of 'craft drinks', with 59 per cent of those surveyed think it important that the industry creates one.
“Consumers are likely to become increasingly demanding of brands which claim to be ‘craft’, and the onus is on these brands to ensure that they can provide clear evidence of their craft credentials," he said.
Wisson also warns that consumer perception that craft products are higher in price than mass-produced ones could also hinder its growth. Forty-one per cent of British drinkers believe they get less for their money with craft alcoholic drinks while only 28 per cent say they are worth paying more for.
"The uncertainty around the term dilutes its ability to differentiate brands or justify a higher price. This suggests the need to reference other, more tangible points of difference to capture customers’ attention," he said.
“Many craft beers are justifiably more expensive than mainstream brands, reflecting economies of scale but also the ingredients used. While consumer interest in seeing a wider variety of beers in the on-trade should benefit craft variants, overpricing poses a potential barrier to the continued growth of the segment.”
Other findings include a belief that small is beautiful for craft drinkers. Over a third (35 per cent) of Brits who buy alcoholic drinks say that brands cannot be ‘craft’ if they are acquired by large companies and 28 per cent agree that brands cannot be ‘craft’ if they get too large in size.
Many drinkers show support for smaller producers with 54 per cent saying that buying craft alcoholic drinks is a good way to support small businesses.