How the pandemic has changed beer purchasing behaviour

09 November, 2020 by Andy Young

The 2020 Australian Craft Beer Survey by Beer Cartel saw just under 17,000 Australian craft beer drinkers participate and has shown just how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed Australia’s craft beer market.

The survey was run between July-September 2020 and contained a range of questions relating to what was called ‘Peak COVID-19’ (April to May 2020) and ‘After Peak’ COVID-19 (any time after this).

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According to the survey there have been distinct changes to consumer spending behaviour as a result of the pandemic, including a significant increase in online purchasing.

Prior to COVID-19 38 per cent of drinkers had purchased beer online in the last year. This has increased significantly with 53 per cent of all respondents having purchased beer online since April this year.

Not only has online purchasing increased, but it has also been strongly driven by Australian brewery speciality craft beer websites.

The survey found that brewery website purchasing doubled from 14 per cent in 2019 to 28 per cent in 2020, while purchasing from craft beer speciality websites increased from 19 per cent in 2019 to 27 per cent in 2020.

Richard Kelsey, Director of Beer Cartel said the growth of craft beer sales online was of no real surprise for him as Beer Cartel had been living this growth over the past year.

“We’ve seen first-hand this switch to online and know the pressure it has put on our own business, with two to three years growth compressed into just one.

“We’ve had to double our staff and re-engineer our processes to keep up with the massive increase in demand. And while that is just our business, I’m sure it is being reflected across the whole industry.”

The survey also found that consumer are showing strong support for Australian independent craft breweries through the pandemic.

Drinkers indicated since COVID-19 they were purchasing less Australian and international mainstream beer while local and Australian craft beer purchases increased. This coincides with increased awareness in the Independent Seal (60 per cent awareness) and 93 per cent of respondents agreeing that ‘Australian breweries need our support more than ever’.

Ecommerce Head for Stone & Wood, Steve Blick, said they had experienced a surge in online sales as a result of COVID-19.

“Shortly after the country went into lockdown it felt like online sales of beer was the new toilet paper and we experienced a bit of a spike in people purchasing directly from our online store,” said Blick.

“A lot of these people were buying beer online for the first time, so we definitely felt the pressure to try and provide a really good experience for them.”

Survey respondents were also asked to vote for the best Australian craft brewery with Black Hops Brewery on the Gold Coast coming out as number one, followed by Balter and Bentspoke.

See the full results of the 2020 Australian Craft Beer Survey by Beer Cartel here.