It's been years of challenges for craft breweries. Despite all the difficulties, brewers do what they do best, they tend to create and bring to market innovative beverages that engage consumers and keep them coming back.
Enlisting some of the trends that will fuel the imagination and resilience of the craft brewing industry in 2021 and further. 2021 has led to an expansion of taproom-boom with the arrival of innovative trends by the newly opened breweries:
Evolution in Brew Styles and Flavors - Brewers have established a foothold in craftsmanship around the world as more and more people discovered their distinctive tastes. Their appeal is to beer drinkers who want to try something new, as well as people who would not normally call themselves beer drinkers, but who like to try different flavors and labels. As craft brewers push through one of the most trying years in recent history, they lean on the creativity and innovation of an industry fuelled by passionate, talented people who are striving to be the best at what they do.
The increasing demand for low alcoholic beverages and craft beer has also led to high demand for exotic fruity flavors in brews. Beer lovers are willing to spend even more to savor their choice of taste as for instance: Mango Cider Beer, Caramel Craft beer and many more have. This has led to the premiumization of the craft beer industry in terms of quality, flavors for consumers, and business opportunities for the brewers. Brewers are also seeing the potential and experimenting with barrel-aged beers. They are also trying to infuse it with different types of alcohol to bring out exceptional variants. Whiskey beer is one combination that catching the attention lately that’s prepared by aging beer in whiskey barrels.
Packaging Alterations and Storytelling Through Design - The beer packaging market in the Asia-Pacific region is mainly driven by changing cultural trends, growing populations, urbanization, and the growing popularity of beer among the younger lot.
Due to various investments and the increasing diffusion of beer in different regions, changing trends are expected to continue in this region, which in turn can stimulate the packaging market. Craft beer labels are carefully designed and therefore the competition is always fierce.
The introduction of growlers, sustainable cups/ glasses/ mugs have enabled taprooms and microbreweries also to increase their sales from delivery and takeaway. It helps connect with the audience through unique and quirky packaging.
Beer brands are trying to connect through mascots, and in 2021 storytelling is an essential part of any good brand - done right, it can communicate who you are and what you stand for. It helps to address the brands their ideal customers. The use of AI has brought in a new dimension in the craft beer industry-unique catchy packaging ideas such as the inclusion of QR codes for consumers to read about the brand DNA by leading them to the brand’s website/social/menu or bring in quirky trends which make the customers feel inclusive and connected.
Future of Sustainability - Manufacturers will strive to meet consumer inclination towards sustainable and functional packaging formats, and conscious product offerings.
Consumers are seen to be concerned about the sustainability of beverage packaging and industry. 89 percent of the companies surveyed deducting their wish to incorporate eco-friendly and reusable measures to their production and packaging. Reusing the cans and glass bottles by sending them back to the packaging production is being adapted.
Innovative Social Media Strategies or Campaign - With social media continuing to dominate, beverage brands are adapting to the current climate and radically rethinking their core messages while communicating with consumers on social media. Brands are coming up with hashtag campaigns, giveaways, barter collaborations, and marketing their breweries/beers in a way that brings in more customers and brings back the crowd which will help them market it through their social media itself. There has been a noticeable boost in customer interaction, reaching out to consumers along with enhancement in visibility and search-ability of brands through their innovative marketing campaigns.
It has also resulted in an open discussion about interests, preferences, awareness through social media groups and chat rooms available online. The collaborative promotions such as one between beer brand and barware or clothing etc. featuring an entire range of products significant to the collaborating brand gain a lot of digital traction in terms of geographical reach and engagement. To name one Bira91 and Nicobar collaboration was very interesting. Such association and collaborations take craft beer into an entirely new direction making it more fashionable, trendy, and contemporary.
The Popularity of the IPAs - India Pale Ales (IPAs) remain the ‘king of the craft’ and brewers continue to add innovative offerings to the hop filler category. The year 2021 has also witnessed a growing appetite for softer, less bitter, and juicy IPAs. Brewers continue to experiment with sour/sour IPAs and that contain lactose. IPAs are still successful and consumers expect to see more IPA innovations on the horizon.
Everlasting Seltzers/ No or Low Alcohol Beverages - Whether anyone agrees or not, hard Seltzers don't seem to be going back anytime soon. It's no longer just the big national players who come into play. Along with non-breweries such as distilleries, wineries, and soft drinks manufacturers are also trying their hand. As Seltzer steps into the limelight, more and more breweries see Seltzers as a viable threat to the light beer segment (below 100 calories) competing for limited shelves &cooler space to move away from traditional beer.
Innovation in the hard seltzer market continues to accelerate with a wider range of flavors, lower-calorie and functional formulations, and a variety of cocktail-inspired rarities. On the ingredient side, more and more suppliers, from traditional beer to non-alcoholic taste houses, are throwing their hats into the ring.
Also, a lot of people reduce alcohol for health and other reasons, hence, the market is responding with a wider range of offers with little or no alcohol. Brewers also market non-alcoholic, hoppy, and non-beer beverages.