CHICAGO (PRNewswire) — The dynamics of beer sales in restaurants and bars are evolving rapidly, and craft beer is a critical factor in driving the trends. More than half of consumers (56 percent) agree that it is important for a restaurant or bar to offer a wide variety of craft beers, and half (49 percent) say they will go to a particular establishment because of its craft beer selection, according to a recent Technomic survey.

Craft beer has grown significantly in both the number of products and overall volume, and restaurant and bars are particularly important to its ongoing expansion. "We project craft beer in on-premise settings will continue posting double-digit gains," says Eric Schmidt, Director of Research at Technomic. "But the rate of product proliferation, advent of myriad styles and fuzzy definition of 'craft' presents challenges to both consumers and operators."

Hard cider is another fast-growing category. "Cider's growth is tremendous ─ volume at retail and in restaurants rose 78 percent overall in 2012 and continues to grow in 2013. The opportunity for cider in restaurants and bars will be influenced by numerous factors going forward," observes Schmidt.

To quantify and clarify the craft beer and cider opportunity in restaurants and bars, Technomic is planning a major research program entitled On-Premise Craft Beer & Cider: Opportunities, Challenges and Innovations. Primary research will involve market analysis to identify leading brands and develop growth projections, as well as an extensive consumer survey to reveal craft beer and cider purchasing behaviors, influencers and preferences. In addition, a deep dive into the operator mindset will explore beverage professionals' challenges and needs regarding craft beer and cider. The study is open to multiple sponsors, who will have the unique opportunity to shape its parameters and content.

Findings from a preliminary consumer survey on craft beer purchases revealed:

  • Half of consumers (51 percent) ordered a favorite type of craft beer, indicating loyalty. One-fifth (22 percent) tried a new craft beer.
  • Casual-dining restaurants (27 percent) and bars (20 percent) are the top two locations where consumers purchased craft beer on their most recent occasion; beer bars ranked third (12 percent).
  • Flavor is the most important attribute of a craft beer (86 percent).
  • Food is important to half of consumers ordering craft beer (54 percent) and is particularly important to Millennials (65 percent).