Statistics make me nervous. Let me restate that: people who choose to lean heavily on stats are the ones who make me nervous. The businesses that collect them also make me raise an eyebrow insofar as how clients may interpret them, without the full benefit of the equally important balance of the qualitative input that fleshes out the quantitative.

I’ve got colleagues and friends in the statistics and quantitative side of beer, and I know them to be sincere professionals, doing things “right.”

So when I see articles like “The American Craft Beer Drinker” in a trade publication, I go right for the astericks and italicized fine print. Case in print per the aformentioned article, the italics state: “Persons contacted were asked: ‘Have you had a microbrew in the past 30 days?’ “

My main concern is this: Did these 210,000 adults questioned have a base line definition on what those surveyed call a ‘craft’ beer? I’m leery because the very definition of a ‘microbrew’ is not the only kind of craft beer as defined by the popularly adopted definition put forth. If you follow industry vernacular, ‘craft’ and ‘microbrew’ are not the same thing, categorically speaking.

In fact, a VP from the company that compiled the survey is quoted as stating: “Microbrews, or craft beer, are a …” Someone from the research company looks to be misinformed about what the core of the survey is in fact trying to get at. T’would make me skeptical to give full bearing to their information if I were a client, unless she was misquoted (which is also possible).

I know from our qualitative research that ‘craft’ and ‘microbrew’ are widely misused and misunderstood. It’s great to use terms – just know what they truly mean and therefore how to apply them. It’s seriously important – if you’re gathering knowledge and insight that people will in fact act on – that you are accurate in the information you gather, ensuring that a common foundation properly starts things off.

“A brewpub may also be known as a microbrewery if production has a significant distribution beyond the premises – the American Brewers Association [currently the Brewers Association] use a fixed 75% of production to determine if a company is a microbrewery.” Wikipedia

There may be delineations. Yet why do we want to fragment beer when talking with consumers? Why is one crafted beer different from another? Did the 210K people have this definition given to them, were these people vetted to make sure they understood the question, and what’s missing from their answer?

What's missing in your beer research information?

So many people categorize all beers, sans ABI/MillerCoors, as ‘microbrews.’ Beyond driving me nuts, the inaccuracy and snobbery that sometimes accompanies the use of the term is not helpful for anyone. “I only drink craft beers.” What does that mean and what is the person trying to say about themselves? To me it smacks of closemindedness. It’s a reversal of embracing the idea there’s a beer for everyone, no matter who they are and what they choose to drink. If it’s all beer, what does it truly matter?

There’s obviously a lot more education that needs to be done. You can’t get accurate information unless there are basic and clear understandings in place to begin with. Make sure that – when you ask questions, the words are understood and meaningful before responses come in.

Categories: Assumptions & Myth Busting, Beer, Marketing, Something To Think About, Women and Beer
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