How 'Peak Craft' can inspire your Brand
By Jade French | Brand Editor
Why haven’t we reached ‘peak craft’ yet? It’s the trend that was once synonymous with hipster lifestyle, and it’s still the buzz-word gem that has you reaching for an ice cold Brewdog over a Carlsberg. Your local corner shop has spotted the trend, they’re stocking Five Points and Beavertown amongst the pre-mixed Jack Daniels and half-price wine. And you’re telling me that we’ve not reached peak craft? Well, no, actually.
The craft boom can teach us a few things about branding. The commitment to being local and home-grown is not only creating more choice for pint-downers and spirit-shotters, but it's also bringing a connection and loyalty between brands and drinkers. In this article, we look at how this global trend still remains local at heart and how buyers actually go about making that key decision: pale ale or IPA?
Bow down to the brewers
In 2015, a survey showed in the US, the number of American breweries had surpassed 4000. In the UK, 2015 also saw a record high in the number of independent breweries opening in the UK. So much so, The Londonist made a handy map catagorised by borough. Paste Magazine predicted the demise of craft beer in the US around 2013, but they were wrong.
According to the Telegraph, there are 11,000 beer choices available in the UK alone. That’s a lot of hops. In many ways it chimes with what we found in our Young Blood research – it’s the idea of choice that motivates many young people to buy, and to assign their identity to a product. In fact, the whole ‘craft’ movement is asking us to buy into a lifestyle and to see bespoke beer as another way to create allegiances. For young people, this explosion of interest in craft allows them to use brands to define and differentiate themselves. Knowing about a certain type of craft increases their feelings of influence, being able to recommend to their peers – both in person and online. There's even research for the wellness fanatics, suggesting that craft beer drinkers are healthier than their non-craft counterparts. If that’s not trying to tap into young people's new-found health kick, we don’t know what is.
Minimal Craft Spirits, Maximum Reach
We might think that ‘craft’ means a product that has been created and fussed over – but that’s not what some product designers would have you believe. There’s been a trend towards the minimal when it comes to conveying craft.
Pernod Ricard’s Our/Vodka initiative is a perfect example. Our/Vodka comes in a range of cities – Berlin, Stockholm, London, New York … The list goes on. Drinking each bespoke vodka does make you feel closer to the location, and even though each recipe stays the same, by sourcing local ingredients they make sure the drink is made collaboratively. It’s an amazing example of how to take a global brand local.
From Our/London to Our/Berlin, the personalised nature of the branding taps into something the drinkers psyche. Doing a shot in a dingy Berlin bar? Sipping it on the rocks in a Stockholm cocktail club? You’re essentially drinking the same thing, but the experience is cleverly woven into the minimalist aesthetic. That pure, clear liquid can have multiple experiences mapped onto it. By aligning with a city, they tap into both local pride, as well as the travellers needs for authenticity and experience.
So, is that the real heartbeat of these craft breweries? Is tapping into a local community the reason why we’ve not reached peak craft yet? As local areas change and evolve, we see the same Our/Vodka method woven into different beer’s identities. Whether you’re supping a Clapton Craft, Camden Hells or Brockley Brew, it says something about your borough and where you come from.
This love of craft beer is so all-encompassing, that New York based strategy experts XenoPsi recently advised beer brands to go mobile. The element of choice that hooks in buyers has got to be filtered somehow, and XenoPsi found “…almost 60% of drinkers have used their smartphone at the shelf to help decide which beer to buy”. That’s some impulse Googling, and shows that where beer brands stand on the social scale could really impact sales.
As usual, there’s also an app for that. Craft beer apps have appeared alongside the product’s growth. So if you want to know what beer best goes with salmon, try BeerMatch. Looking for the academic side to a tipple? BJCP Styles has a comprehensive list of all beer styles and what they taste like. Just want to ask your mates out for a pint? Try the simple messaging app Beer?!