Analysing over 98m social media posts referencing beer over the course of two years, Foresight Factory, a consumer analytics company specialising in trends, has identified the key trends of the beer market for 2017 in its latest social media listening report. These point to an increasingly adventurous consumer base that readily avails itself of the wide variety of beer choices on offer, explores how beers pair with different food combinations, and increasingly uses beer consumption to elevate times of relaxation and fun, such as travelling and Sundays.
One of the most prominent trends that the research uncovered is the growing tendency for consumers to pair beer with food, with conversation of food-beer pairings growing by 147 per cent over the last two years. Foresight Factory further dug into the details of this trends, with ‘posh fast food’ – chicken, cheese, burgers, curry, and barbecues – most frequently associated with the beverage. While this seems to echo the long tradition of pairing food with wine, the research found that beer-food pairings are less strict than those with wine.
Other intriguing trends relate to specific occasions people associate with beer consumption; travelling in particular is emerging as a time most regularly paired with beer, with Sundays an atypical choice, but one that is growing in popularity. Mentions of the pairing of Sundays and travelling rose by 80 percent in the past two years, which Foresight Factory correlates with the rise in the concept of ‘Sunday Funday’, and the accompanying day drinking.
Laura Dennehy, Head of Content Solutions at Foresight Factory, commented on the overarching themes of the research: “We’re seeing the growth of a new kind of beer drinker: adventurous with flavours, and keen to take beer drinking beyond its conventional circumstances and timings. This theme can be seen in a variety of trends – the pairing of beer with food and the ascendancy of hoppy and more complex flavours illustrates a more experimental approach coming to the fore. This is accompanied by a more discerning eye for taste from some quarters, with enthusiasts now calling for specific shapes of glass to be matched to the type of beer, in the belief that this enhances the drinking experience. Perhaps the most revealing manifestation of this phenomenon is the growing claim that, despite tradition, beer actually goes better with cheese than wine does.
“Connecting these findings to wider consumer trends, we can see that beer is increasingly incorporated into the urge to turn the ordinary into an occasion, a trend we call the ‘Everyday Exceptional.’ Driven by a generation of people in their 20s and early 30s who are not yet having kids and therefore still have quite a lot of spare time and money (in relative terms), this has seen beer become associated with travel and with the growing phenomenon of ‘Sunday Funday’,” she said.
Laura concluded by alluding to the commercial value that these insights could yield: “For those in the business of beer, these findings point the way to all kinds of opportunities where they can look to better meet consumer’s consumption habits and desires. For example, the food pairing trend provides an opportunity to explore which foods pair well with your own beer and communicate that to consumers, enhancing their own experience of your product. Partnerships with food brands to bring this to the fore could also be an exciting option. Either way, it’s an incredibly exciting time to involved in beer, whether as casual drinker, enthusiast, or business person.”