Sorry for interrupting, this website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Learn more
Accept & Close

UK Attitudes towards Craft Alcoholic Drinks market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Attitudes towards Craft Alcoholic Drinks market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

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.

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.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Alice Baker , a leading analyst in the Food & Drink sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Where craft brands enjoy a decided advantage over standard ones is the positive emotions they spark among users. Underpinning this is a perception of craft brands as supporting their local economy. Marketing messages presenting their company as part of a wider community would help craft producers to leverage this perception. Alice Baker
Food & Drink Analyst

What you get

What's included

Why buy from us?

Succeed

Our reports will provide you with market data, consumer research and competitive intelligence to succeed in your market.

Instant Access

Buy now and you'll have instant access to the information you need to make the right decisions.

Opportunities

Find out what's next in the markets that matter to you: where opportunities lie and what challenges you will face.

Trusted

A business Superbrand, Mintel is a source you can trust. We have been defining and refining the Market Intelligence mix since 1972.

Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Products covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Consumer cutbacks on alcohol affect the craft segment
              • Ageing UK population to hinder craft drinks
                • New craft entrants heat up the competition in alcoholic drinks
                  • Companies and brands
                    • Leading players continue to acquire craft brands
                      • Few alcohol launches use the term ‘craft’ on-pack
                        • Larger companies look to tap into the craft trend
                          • NPD trends include standout packaging, flavours and low/no alcohol
                            • Craft brands raise their profile by linking with music and movies
                              • The consumer
                                • Three in 10 adults buy craft drinks
                                  • Figure 1: Buying of standard and craft alcoholic drinks, June 2018
                                • Price and brand are key influences on alcohol buying
                                  • Craft labels have little influence even on craft buyers
                                    • Figure 2: Alcoholic drinks buying factors, June 2018
                                  • Strong links between craft alcohol buying and foodie-ism
                                    • Unique flavour and quality ingredients are the most widely seen as important for craft
                                      • Figure 3: Factors seen as most important for an alcoholic drink to be considered ‘craft’ , June 2018
                                    • Flavour profile labelling and quality awards can help craft drinks to win new users
                                      • Figure 4: Behaviours relating to craft alcoholic drinks, June 2018
                                    • Craft drinks enjoy a strong feel-good factor
                                      • Figure 5: Craft alcohol buyers’ behaviours, June 2018
                                    • Consumers are split on the importance of heritage
                                      • Figure 6: Attitudes towards craft alcoholic drinks, June 2018
                                    • What we think
                                    • Issues and Insights

                                      • Perception that acquisitions lead to a decline in quality pose an issue for large companies taking over craft brands
                                        • The facts
                                          • The implications
                                            • Craft drinks in on-trend flavours should appeal
                                              • The facts
                                                • The implications
                                                  • Scope to further mine the feel-good factor around craft drinks
                                                    • The facts
                                                      • The implications
                                                      • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                                        • Consumer cutbacks on alcohol affect the craft segment
                                                          • Ageing UK population to hinder craft drinks
                                                            • New craft entrants heat up the competition in alcoholic drinks
                                                            • Market Drivers

                                                              • ‘Craft’ term remains unregulated
                                                                • Multiple factors affect alcohol prices
                                                                  • Inflation hits the category
                                                                    • Scotland introduces minimum unit price for alcohol
                                                                      • Stronger craft cider could be hit by extra duties
                                                                        • A third of buyers have cut back on alcohol for health reasons
                                                                          • Ageing UK population offers little support to craft drinks
                                                                            • Smaller brands benefit from supermarkets expanding their craft ranges
                                                                              • Continued growth in breweries and distilleries
                                                                              • Companies and Brands – What You Need to Know

                                                                                • Leading players continue to acquire craft brands
                                                                                  • Few alcohol launches use the term ‘craft’ on-pack
                                                                                    • Larger companies look to tap into the craft trend
                                                                                      • NPD trends include standout packaging, flavours and low/no alcohol
                                                                                        • Craft brands raise their profile by linking with music and movies
                                                                                        • Takeovers and Acquisitions

                                                                                          • Acquisitions of smaller brands in various alcoholic drinks sectors from 2013-18
                                                                                            • Figure 7: Selected acquisitions of craft brands by major companies^, 2013-18
                                                                                          • Beer
                                                                                            • Heineken moves on two craft brands
                                                                                              • Beavertown acquisition provokes a backlash in some quarters
                                                                                                • Carlsberg snaps up troubled London Fields
                                                                                                  • Fullers takes over Dark Star
                                                                                                    • Lion of Australia buys Fourpure
                                                                                                      • White Spirits
                                                                                                        • Beam Suntory looks to reassure consumers after Sipsmith acquisition
                                                                                                          • Cider
                                                                                                            • Molson Coors acquires Aspall
                                                                                                              • BrewDog looks to shake up the cider market with Hawkes investment
                                                                                                              • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                                                                • Few alcohol launches use the ‘craft’ term on pack
                                                                                                                  • Gin boom drives rise in small-batch gins
                                                                                                                    • Figure 8: UK alcoholic drinks launches, by selected terms featured on-pack, 2014-18 (sorted by 2017)
                                                                                                                  • Heineken puts the spotlight on its brewers with Maltsmiths
                                                                                                                    • Figure 9: Example of Heineken’s Maltsmiths brand, 2018
                                                                                                                  • Pub chains collaborate with craft brewers
                                                                                                                    • Retailers expand their own-label alcohol ranges with craft products
                                                                                                                      • Beer
                                                                                                                        • White spirits
                                                                                                                          • Figure 10: Examples of own-label craft alcoholic drinks, 2017-18
                                                                                                                        • Craft brands explore unusual flavours
                                                                                                                          • Craft brewers extend into other categories
                                                                                                                            • Low/no alcohol beers from craft brewers emphasise their full flavour
                                                                                                                              • Giving further detail on low/no alcohol products’ flavour
                                                                                                                                • Figure 11: Low/no alcohol craft beer launches, UK, 2017-18
                                                                                                                              • Unusual packaging formats help with on-shelf standout
                                                                                                                                • Craft brewer unveils beer in wine-style bottles
                                                                                                                                  • The Uncommon launches English wine in a can
                                                                                                                                    • Beer Hawk adds to Beer Bullets range
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 12: Beer Hawk Beer Bullet plus beers included, UK, 2017
                                                                                                                                    • Craft brands take inspiration from a variety of sources
                                                                                                                                      • Ethical products from craft brands should boost feelgood associations
                                                                                                                                        • McGuigan launches small-batch wines
                                                                                                                                        • Advertising and Marketing Activity

                                                                                                                                            • BrewDog republishes its recipe book
                                                                                                                                              • Maltsmiths highlights its perfectionism
                                                                                                                                                • Camden Town launches its first TV campaign
                                                                                                                                                  • Outdoor campaign focuses on pleasure
                                                                                                                                                    • Craft brands raise their profile at cultural events
                                                                                                                                                      • Linking with music and film
                                                                                                                                                        • Music event with craft beers promoted as way for people to support local industry
                                                                                                                                                          • Tiny Rebel sponsors Spotify playlists
                                                                                                                                                            • Whitley Neill invites people to inhale ‘gin mist’
                                                                                                                                                            • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                                                              • Three in 10 adults buy craft drinks
                                                                                                                                                                • Price and brand are key influences on alcohol buying
                                                                                                                                                                  • Craft labels have little influence even on craft buyers
                                                                                                                                                                    • Strong links between craft alcohol buying and foodie-ism
                                                                                                                                                                      • Unique flavour and quality ingredients are the most widely seen as important for craft
                                                                                                                                                                        • Flavour profile labelling and quality awards can help craft drinks to win new users
                                                                                                                                                                          • Craft drinks enjoy a strong feelgood factor
                                                                                                                                                                            • Consumers are split on the importance of heritage
                                                                                                                                                                            • Buying of Standard and Craft Alcoholic Drinks

                                                                                                                                                                              • Three in 10 adults buy craft alcohol drinks
                                                                                                                                                                                • More men than women buy craft
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 13: Buying of standard and craft alcoholic drinks, June 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                • Ale/bitter is the most widely bought craft alcohol type
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Uptake of craft white spirits is low despite the buzz around gin
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 14: Buying of standard and craft alcoholic drinks, by drinks type, June 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                • Alcoholic Drinks Buying Factors

                                                                                                                                                                                  • Price is the primary influence on alcoholic drinks buying
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Introductory offers can help challenger brands to attract users
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 15: Alcoholic drinks buying factors, June 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Brand loyalty is strong in alcohol
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Brand loyalty is on a par between craft and standard alcohol buyers
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Craft label has little influence even on craft buyers
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Expertise and Interest in Trends among Alcoholic Drinks Buyers

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Over half of people who follow food/drink trends buy craft alcohol
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Various opportunities for craft producers to build associations with food trends
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Trendy on-trade venues will need to ensure good selection of craft drinks
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 16: Expertise and Interest in Trends among alcoholic drinks buyers, June 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                              • A third of buyers like to be the first to try new alcoholic drinks
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Sense of connoisseurship is higher among younger consumers
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Factors Seen as Most Important for Craft Alcoholic Drinks

                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Flavour and ingredients are most widely seen as important for craft
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 17: Factors seen as most important for an alcoholic drink to be considered ‘craft’, June 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Many who prioritise unique flavour also prioritise quality ingredients
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Hand-made products signal craft to a third
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 18: Heat map of areas seen as indicating a craft product^, June 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Ownership is seen as important by three in 10
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Acquisitions of craft brands by larger companies can lead to a backlash
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Need for large companies acquiring craft brands to reassure the public
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Small-batch production is associated with craft by three in 10
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Small-batch production carries some quality associations …
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • …but has little effect on buying
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Behaviours relating to Craft Alcoholic Drinks

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Various opportunities for craft drinks to attract new users
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • On-shelf labelling on flavour profile appeals particularly to under-35s ...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 19: Behaviours relating to craft alcoholic drinks, June 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • … and would encourage 40% of non-users to buy craft
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Quality awards would encourage half of alcohol buyers to buy craft
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Collaborative drinks enjoy wide appeal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Craft Alcohol Buyers’ Behaviours

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Strong feel-good factor for craft drinks
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 20: Craft alcohol buyers’ behaviours, June 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Recommendations are key to driving trial of craft drinks
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • ‘Shared wisdom’ marketing messages can allow brands to harness the power of recommendations
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Attitudes towards Craft Alcoholic Drinks

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Consumers are split on the importance of heritage
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Good opportunities for small-batch variants from established brands
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 21: Attitudes towards craft alcoholic drinks, June 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Only a minority feel that own-label drinks cannot be craft
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Tangible references to production methods can help own-label to build a craft positioning
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Collaborations between own-label and craft brands should appeal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Consumer research methodology
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Appendix – Factors seen as Most Important for Craft Alcoholic Drinks

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 22: Original images of products featured in focus group study of on-pack terms seen as indicating a craft product, June 2018