Craft & Millenials Top Consumer Findings 2017/2018

Our on trade customers are always interested to hear the latest insight we have at Carlsberg UK.  One of the biggest questions they ask us is “Can you help us to put the right brand in the right outlet?” This is impossible unless we start with the consumer who is going into their pubs, which is the starting point for putting together the insights report.

Why we produce a Consumer Insights report

Although there are currently so many hot topics for our customers, we are approached all the time about the role craft beer can play in outlets and the best way to encourage customers to trial the vast offering. More surprisingly, we are also experiencing a shift in beer becoming a popular feature on our customer’s menus. Where before wine has long been the traditional favourite partner with food, we are beginning to see beer - and especially craft beer, a popular alternative in food pairing.

On a further point, we really wanted to get to a place where we could give our customers some real advice on what the consumer wants – is it just about having the right categories on the bar if you are a food-led venue or is it more than that?  We knew that a simple logo on a menu wouldn’t necessarily cut the mustard for consumers, but what would?

Ultimately, we wanted to achieve a further understanding of where the consumer sits on the craft journey. It’s making a lot of noise in the industry but it’s always good to sense check with consumers to see how they are feeling and what they are thinking. 

Journey on compiling the report

The backbones of the research comprises of a quantitative questionnaire, with 1,677 consumers completing it this year. We have previously used the same method, so for some questions we were able to track answers as far as the year 2010, which gives us a good steer of trends over time. 

This year some of the questions have gone through amends to get a broader view of consumer’s attitudes.  For example, splitting the behaviour into wet-led and dry-led outlets has shown some key differences in consumer spend and occasions. Perhaps the most poignant change however, was the shift from sporting/football side of things, to a more food-led, venues and occasions focus.

However, the principles have remained the same: understanding how long consumers arrive before a meal and how long they stay after they have finished-  where previously it was how long before and after a football match has enabled to highlight opportunities for our customers to increase spend.

Once the research came back to us, it was a matter of going through the data and pulling out what really stood out to us and what the potential stories could be. We did this by holding several sessions where we brainstormed the data that stood out from previous years, and split them into topics – millennials, casual dining, craft, beer and food etc.

Once this was mapped out, we pulled in further data and supporting information from other providers that supported/highlighted the trends, we had seen.

What does the report provide

From a customer perspective, it is all about helping them to maximise their sales through doing one of three things – more people, more often or spending more, utilising our consumer insight and trends to do this.  It is also about credibility and being a trusted partner for our customers too – they know we will provide them with objective insight that will help their business, and in turn ours too!

Surprising findings this year

I was surprised by several things – consumers are much more open to trying new drinks than I thought, which means there is real scope to drive our NPD and craft choices.  The other stat that stood out was that in a food led pub having a drink that matches the food is as important as price to some consumers.  This just highlights how important the whole eating out experience is to consumers.  Especially older millennials (26-35) who are very highly engaged with beer and food matching too.  Experiences are definitely becoming increasingly important.

This is less surprising but still interesting – consumers who purchase craft are very much driven by taste, even over price.  Craft is probably the only category where taste is ranked over and above price as to why consumers buy one craft brand over another.

Also the millennial topic.  I think we knew that grouping such a big number of consumers as having one set of behaviours might not be the right thing to do but there are some very clear differences between the 18-25s and 26-35s.  The latter are the least price sensitive and open to more ideas and experiences. Where- as 18-25s are very price sensitive and clearly want to see value for money.  It’s crucial to understand that targeting millennials as a whole group of consumers can be detrimental to outlets.

Words by Angie May, Carlsberg UK Category Manager