Wednesday, 19 March 2014

More Craft Confusion

It is a rich seam this craft. I haven't finished mining it yet, but one thing is for sure, I'm slowly but surely coming round to a different way of thinking about it.  Not quite at the @Robsterowski end of the spectrum (Craft is meaningless and all its adherents need to agree to re-education or die), but moving towards being a lot more cynical about it in small, faltering steps. The usually dependable Morning Advertiser illustrates that neatly, with a confusing article.  I wonder if it has been edited in such a way that it ended up not making a lot of sense, or if when it was written it didn't.  Or, if the market research company provided a poor synopsis which was simply copied?  

So, basically we have a Market Research company alleging that publicans aren't talking the same language as their customers when it comes to providing what customers want.  The MR company (!im) - phoned 500 customers and then 300 publicans and asked a series of questions about pubs, why people go and what they expect when they get there. So far, so good.  "It's the Offer Stupid" as I keep saying, so you aren't likely to find me disagreeing, provided I understand what was asked and what was answered. But I don't really.

Food is fairly straightforward and while percentages vary, both publicans and customers at least have the same hymn sheet in their hand as they sing the song.  Drinks are more puzzling.  Customers (43%) want locally sourced.  Hmm. What? Wine and spirits? Can't be. Soft drinks? Unlikely. So it must be beer musn't it?  They also want British, but the article doesn't tell us what the publicans think of that. Seemingly 33% also want craft beers, while only 22% of publicans see this as a priority, though 19% promote craft cider.  (Be good to know what that is? Industrial alcohol, water and flavouring perhaps?)  69% of publicans give real ale a priority, but what customers think of that, we aren't told. But remember, customers want British and local.  Big real ale tick I assume then?  Or is it British craft they want?  Or do they think real ale is craft, or some other combination. We aren't told sadly, though I find the craft percentage interesting.

Either way this is poorly presented and may well have provided useful insights if it hadn't been. Pity that.

I thought !him might have this survey on their webbie, but I can't find a trace of them.  Stop Press.  Yes I can.  They are in fact called "Him!"  assuming it is them.  More bollocks from the MA, but their client list is interesting.


Cooking Lager said...

What do pub customers want?

I would say a drink without danger of ending up in A&E and not requiring a second mortgage.

Basically all the benefits of buying some cheap grog from Lidl but with the advantage of using someone elses central heating, but none of the disadvantages usually associated with pubs and the rough sorts that frequent them.

py said...

You go to the pub to socialise and because inviting a bunch of people round to your house feels weird and is often inconvenient.

You then pick the pub based on a number of factors. You might want to eat, you might want to watch the 6 nations, you might want to play pool, you might want to dance, you might want to sit outside, you might want a particular atmosphere, cool and trendy and full of fit girls or quaint with a log fire.

Regardless of what else you're lokking for, a good selection of beer is always a huge tick as well. There really is no reason why a pub can't make the effort to offer a decent range of drinks. If the cask doesn't turn over in time, put on some kegs and bottles.

With regards to the survey, it reads like the questions were open ended, and the respondants themselves came up with the words and phrases mentioned. So if it doesn't tell you how many pubs mentioned "British", its because they didn't.

I don't agree with Mr Gonzales conclusion about food being a key component either, as food was only 3rd down the list of priorities.

Tandleman said...

I didn't have complete confidence in it shall we say?

Curmudgeon said...

It's widely recognised that what people say they want, and what they demonstrate they actually want by what they choose to buy, are often entirely different. It's called "revealed preference".

And if you ask "do you want locally-produced organic food or some muck from unspecified countries put together in a factory in Hull?" the answer won't come as a total surprise.

Coxy said...

All sounds a bit Reggie Perrin

Cooking Lager said...

@Mudge Does that mean people claim to want to visit lots of different pubs, drink lots of different beer, appreciate the decor of the modern and the history of the traditional, in lots of different places, write it up in note books keeping meticulous records, get excited when a brewery bring out a slightly paler or darker version of the best bitter with a different pump clip, be discerning in regard to what passes there lips but ACTUALLY their revealed preference is to neck lots of the same generic lout cheaply in Spoons, getting pissed and forgetting the meaningless of existence and copping off with chubby orange lasses outside by the bins? I've long thought you had multiple parts to your personality, Mudge.

StringersBeer said...

Shock news! Most people go to pub for "quiet drink" or "sociable get-together".

Gary Gillman said...

The confusion endemic to this issue - it is starting to be the same in North America - arises IMO because of an excellent comment Cooking Lager made to your preceding post. Much of the craft community seems inspired by an anti-corporate mentality. The bigger and older the company, the more it tends to be viewed negatively. As he said, you see the phenomenon in other areas, as examples I'd suggest the environment, mining, and industrial food production. As CL said too, this results in a paradox, in that you see such "individualist" communities around the world, usually in big cities, yet they resemble each other quite a bit, often down to the duds they wear or the sounds they listen to.

What craft should mean is a product that tastes traditional, or real: no matter who makes it. Indeed at the outset of the craft beer movement, the small is beautiful part was only one aspect and not the biggest one. (Perhaps it was bigger in the U.K. than America, I'll acknowledge that, but e.g., few wouldn't drink White Shield or Director's Bitter just because big companies made them, that would be crazy).

Too much bad or silly beer is lauded for simply being made by small concerns; too much excellent beer is dismissed or ignored for simply being made by large or old-established ones (dad's brown beer being a classic instance).

Sure, we will never get unanimity amongst consumers, distributors, brewers on what is truly craft, but we must strive to create a workable (practical) definition, at least the core of one. For me it's a product that, some styles excepted, is all-malt or mostly malt, is generously hopped, eschews pasteurization or perhap uses a flash process only; and cask-conditioning to be encouraged. Anyone can use the term but we shouldn't let the market give it any old meaning.


StringersBeer said...

"What craft should mean is a product that tastes traditional, or real: no matter who makes it." All-righty! That's sorted then.

No, but seriously, "anti-corporate mentality" You think? Those crazy hippies, eh?

Phil said...

at the outset of the craft beer movement, the small is beautiful part was only one aspect and not the biggest one. (Perhaps it was bigger in the U.K. than America, I'll acknowledge that, but e.g., few wouldn't drink White Shield or Director's Bitter just because big companies made them, that would be crazy).

I can't speak for the craft beer movement, but it always seemed to me that it was the US crafties who had a thing about brewery size - it's part of the Official Definition, after all. But perhaps you're right about it being more a British thing among 'craft beer' believers. When the idea of 'craft beer' was brought over here (mainly by BD) the idea of it being something not made by the Big Boys came with it - and for BD the Big Boys were Shepherd Neame and Caledonian as well as AB-InBev and Molson Coors. And wackiness ensued.