Within the ever-increasing competitive craft beer industry in Ireland, developing and managing strong brands is critically important for company survival and success. Females are the fastest growing customer segment within this competitive market, thereby becoming an important and influential customer segment to tap into. Brands exist in the minds of consumers, and therefore a brand is only as strong or effective as it is perceived by the consumer. Therefore, female consumer brand perceptions towards craft beer become critically important within this competitive industry.
This dissertation set out to explore the female consumer brand perceptions of craft beer in Ireland. The specific objectives of this research study were:
• To examine how the craft beer industry can attract the female consumer
• Determine the key elements of a brand strategy toward the female consumer
• Factors that influence female consumer’s decision to purchase craft beer
• Based on the fact that females are more brand loyal than men (Melnyk et al., 2009), examine if brand loyalty can be established with the female consumer.
This research study adopted a mixed method approach, by conducting semi-structured interviews with three marketing managers of Irish craft beer brands (qualitative) and developing questionnaires for female consumers aged 18-34 in Ireland (quantitative). All primary research findings, including the secondary research through the form of literature review, was compared with and contrasted to each other.
The findings of this research demonstrate that females perceive the craft beer industry as a way to experience an innovative beer tasting experience but the majority consider themselves as not brand loyal. The primary research also illustrates that female consumer taste and style preferences are evolving alongside the craft beer industry. There is evidence to support that the style of the beer and brewing origin are important factors to consider for branding towards females in this market. Craft beer brands develop strong, differentiated brands in order to compete within the competitive market. Currently, the brands do not consider gender demographics when developing their branding and marketing strategies. However, evidence within the primary research demonstrate that there are opportunities for the brands to develop branding strategies towards them.