We ran that same headline last year. Apparently, the facts haven’t changed: 70% of consumers choose their beer at time of purchase. It’s still insane, right? It’s a factoid via the 2017 Craft Beer Category Design Audit, and it’s a gobsmacker that should make you realize how important branding is when trying to differentiate your beer products on shelves and coolers and at festivals and bars. In fact, considering the evidence above, branding is actually more important than the beer (just ask all those giant beer companies). Dig this from the recent Nielsen blog:
According to Nielsen’s Craft Beer Category Design Audit, 66% of American craft beer buyers say that a beer’s package/label is “very” or “extremely” important for getting them to notice it. Additionally, 60% say that the package/label is “very” or “extremely” important in convincing them to give it a try and buy it. Overall, 71% of craft beer buyers say they like to try brands with bold and interesting packaging. While package and label design is relevant for all consumers, women are slightly more swayed by design than men (75% vs 66%) when it comes to the craft beer category.
To get you started: We have exactly one zillion articles on this site about the importance of branding. We even did a webinar titled, “A crash course in craft beer branding.” Key differentiators, understanding your brand essence, applying consistency and being damn clever and creative are musts on today’s beer shelves, coolers and taps. That all sounds well and good, but could you give us some successful brands as examples? Sure. Back to the audit:
Despite the influx of options and myriad variety, savvy creatives are finding success in catching consumers’ attention amid a sea of diversity. During our Craft Beer Design Audit study, we tested 17 package designs in the craft beer realm: nine that were big sellers on the East Coast and eight that were big sellers on the West Coast. Among those with sales from the East Coast, only Big Kona Brewing’s Big Wave Golden Ale and Deschutes Brewery’s Black Butte Porter were viewed as distinct in their ability to stand out and establish brand personality. On the West Coast, Kona’s Castaway IPA and Saint Archer’s IPA ranked highest in terms of equity differentiation.
Kona? Saint Archer? Yep, “craft” brands owned by corporate roll-ups Craft Brew Alliance and MillerCoors. Corporations have long invested in designers and marketing teams to position their products, develop core values, frame origin stories and create successful brands. More and more craft beer entrepreneurs are realizing that type of unique and intensive branding is imperative in a market of 5,300+ breweries in the United States. In their favor, craft beer drinkers are always willing to try something new. That’s why they often don’t have a clue what they’re buying till they roll into the beer section.
Standing out visually is also important when you consider that beer purchase decisions are more likely to be made at the shelf than overall fast-moving consumer goods purchases (70% vs. 58%).