Flavor, style and origins are all important to craft beer consumers, but another element also influences the restaurant patron perusing the craft selection: cost. More than half of on-premise craft beer drinkers (55%) indicate that a special offer or price promotion increases their likelihood of ordering a particular craft beer, as revealed in Technomic, Inc.’s On-Premise Craft Beer & Cider study. In fact, price promotion is more motivating than unique attributes, such as seasonals or limited-time brews (39%) or beers brewed in collaboration with another, perhaps more familiar brewer (35%).
The importance of cost as a decision driver in craft beer is in keeping with the recent trend of consumers prioritizing cost at the bar, however, in the context of craft beer, raises some interesting issues and opportunities. As the craft beer landscape becomes increasingly crowded, price competition is heating up. As a result, some brews risk price promotion obscuring their unique attributes, and the entire category risks commoditization.
For restaurant and hotel operators, however, strategic price promotion that leverages brand equity to satisfy their specific customers can preserve the differentiating experience they strive to deliver with their craft beer offering while also driving traffic and sales. Striking that balance requires a deep understanding of how consumers approach craft beer on-premise, as the valued attributes and purchase triggers are unique category, and vary by demographics and by region. For instance, women are more influenced by price promotion, seasonals and beers resulting from brewer collaboration than men, and also prefer beers with different flavor profiles. That information points to an opportunity to engage women with craft beer on-premise via targeted price promotion on seasonal beers or brews with specific flavors.
As restaurant and bar patrons become more knowledgeable about craft beer – and research shows they definitely are – they also become more discerning consumers. That puts the onus on the operator to stay one step ahead.