Williamsburg's Craft Beer Consumers

Site of our future brewery. Not really.
Site of our future brewery. Not really.

In yesterday's post I gave an overview of how we ended up in Williamsburg, Virginia. Today I want to spend some time discussing the demographic profile of a typical craft beer consumer and how that profile matches up with the consumers in our local market. According to Nielsen research, the typical craft beer consumer lives in a cosmopolitan center, affluent suburbs, or a comfortable country setting. That consumer will likely fall between the ages of 21 and 67, where 90% of craft beer is consumed. The age groups that consume the most craft beer are Generation X (18.7% of population, 23.9% of craft beer volume), Millenials (26.1% of population, 32.9% of craft beer volume), and Baby Boomers (37% of population, 36.4% of craft beer volume).

Disregarding age and location, the consumer will likely be highly educated and earn an above-average salary; research has shown that craft beer consumption has a distinctly elevated income skew, with almost 78% of the total volume being consumed by households with incomes over $50,000. In terms of gender, men are responsible for 71.9% of overall craft beer consumption (which mirrors overall U.S. beer consumption by gender). We realize that there are many craft beer consumers that don't fall within some or all of the demographic profile created by the research noted here, and we will certainly be gearing our marketing efforts and outreach to serve those consumers as well. For example, female craft beer drinkers are among the fastest-growing consumer segments within the industry.

The City of Williamsburg and the surrounding counties (James City County and York County) have a growing, affluent population of almost 150,000 people. Of the 70,000 people located within a 5-mile radius of our desired location (more information on that topic soon, we hope!), 60% are between the ages of 21 and 67. That population is projected to grow to almost 76,000 by 2017, with a corresponding increase in average household income from $86,567 to $89,988. Over 62% of the roughly 27,000 households within the 5-mile radius have a household income over $50,000, 48% of the citizens possess at least a Bachelors degree, and 70% of the employed population have jobs classified by the census as “white collar.” Looking a bit wider, the greater Hampton Roads region is the second largest metropolitan area between Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, GA, with a total population of almost 1.7 million people. The median age is 35.4 and the average household income is $68,474; both are in the target demographic for craft beer.

As has likely become clear, the Williamsburg area has a population that matches up nicely with the demographic profile of a typical craft beer consumer. In future posts I will touch on our research related to market conditions as well as the legal considerations we took into account before selecting our location!

*Special thanks to Danny Brager for providing the Nielsen research used in this post, which was presented in a seminar titled, "The Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of the Craft Beer Consumer," during the 2013 Craft Brewers Conference in Washington, DC.