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Survey Sez: 29% of Beer Drinkers Prefer Craft; Just 7% of 21+ Adults in Big Cities Had “Any” Recently

The trick to surveys is all in how you pose the question. It can make comparing answers to different, while related questions difficult. But regardless of whether researchers asked 21+ Americans about their favorite type of adult beverage or which ones they remember drinking, results from a pair of surveys, both from Nielsen, reveal some remarkable similarities. Consider: 38% of regular drinkers would pick beer as their alc bev of choice, if forced to choose just one, according to results of recent Harris Poll. A pretty similar 43% of 21+ adults in the 10 largest U.S. cities reported “any” beer consumption in the month before taking Scarborough Research’s survey about drinking habits. Drill down to results on “craft” for a little perspective.

Harris Poll: Craft More Popular Among 35-44 Yr Old Males, Educated, Higher Income; Cross-Drinking  Of those 38% of drinkers who chose beer as their “beverage of choice,” about 29% of ’em said craft was their “favorite type.” That works out to just 8% of the total 2,143 legal drinking age respondents that took Harris Poll last month and 11% of “regular drinkers.” So we’re still lookin’ at a relatively small group of American adults who say craft beer is their top alc bev choice. Among those who prefer beer, drinkers in the “West” are slightly more likely to say craft is their favorite type of beer compared to folks in Northeast, South and Midwest.

Demographics of folks who prefer craft fit the usual profile: mid-30s to 40s, male, educated, pretty affluent. About 40% of all 35-44 yr old beer fans prefer craft to other beer types. Older beer lovers prefer non-craft domestics; younger beer lovers prefer imports. Craft preference in that 35-44 age group is even higher among men: almost half of men in that group prefer craft to other beer. But among women, it’s the younger 21-34 yr old cohort of beer lovers that’s more likely to prefer craft. Other groups with higher incidence of craft lovers: folks with income over $100K per yr (40% of beer lovers in this group also prefer craft); college grads (35%); currently employed (32%) and students (a whopping 63%). In terms of race/ethnicity, white beer drinkers prefer craft at average levels, while a slightly smaller group of Hispanic respondents said craft is their favorite type of beer. Meanwhile, no black respondents said so (much more likely to prefer spirits to beer in the first place), while about half of “Other” race/ethnicity respondents choose craft over other beer types.

Scarborough: Near 17% of Recent Beer Drinkers Had “Any” Craft, Slowly Ticking Up Across 10 Big Cities  Rather than ask about favorites, Scarborough survey asks 21+ adults in big metro markets about what they remember drinking over the last 30 days. And across representative samples of almost 73 mil adults living in the 10 largest U.S. metro areas, all surveyed between Aug 2015 and Sep 2016, about 7% said they drank “any craft or microbrew” (again, not far off from 8% of adults who prefer craft, above). Looking at smaller group of beer drinkers in these markets, those who had “any” beer at all in last month, 16.7% of them had at least one craft beer in the last month, up 0.4 points. At the high end, over a quarter of beer drinkers in San Francisco, 26%, report “any” recent craft/microbrew consumption. Washington DC is just behind at very near 25%. (Top 10 metro-markets: NYC, LA, Chicago, Philly, SF, Boston, Dallas/Ft Worth, DC, Houston, Atlanta.)

On the low end, just 11% of beer drinkers in NYC said they had “any” craft beer recently, down 3+ points from prior yr. In Chicago, it’s an average 16%, still up long-term, but -7 points last yr. On the other hand, the same measure increased by about 4 points in LA, Philadelphia and Dallas/Fort Worth, to 16%, 17.3% and 14.6%, respectively. This isn’t that unusual; this measure can vary widely market-to-market and year-to-year. (And gotta figure shifting perceptions of what is or isn’t craft affect these numbers.) But in the long-term, the group of adults who say they had at least one craft beer in the last month continues to rise. Scarborough also asks about specific brand consumption in these cities and some top craft brands do show up. Market totals, brand results and further analysis will be available in the 2017 Craft Brew Guide.

Publishing Info

  • Year: 2017
  • Volume: 8
  • Issue #: 12
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