New Harris Poll Looks at "Craft"-y Marketing Language

Handmade? Limited Edition? Artisan? Buzzwords show varied levels of impact on Americans' food/beverage purchase decisions

Aug 26, 2015, 07:15 ET from The Harris Poll

NEW YORK, Aug. 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- There are a lot of buzzwords used in the world of food and beverage marketing today. It's become commonplace to see advertisements touting products that are "craft" and "limited edition" and find packages emblazoned with words like "handcrafted" and "artisan." But what do these words actually tell consumers about the products? And what influence might they have on purchases? A recent Harris Poll aims to find out just that.

"Handmade/handcrafted" tops the provided list as a mark of quality, with nearly six in ten (59%) adults saying it strongly or somewhat communicates that a product is high quality. "Artisan/artisanal" and "custom" are the next best messengers of high quality, with 46% of adults saying each communicates this, followed by "craft" at 44% and "limited edition" at 41%. Just 31% say the same of "small batch."

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,225 U.S. adults surveyed online between May 20 and 26, 2015. Full results of this study, including data tables, can be found here.

When asked to estimate how much influence each description wields over their purchasing decisions, "handmade/handcrafted" shows the strongest potential sway with roughly half (48%) estimating it has some or a great deal of influence on their decisions. Over one-third say the same for "limited edition" (37%), "custom" (36%), or "artisan/artisanal" (36%). Just under one-third of adults (32%) estimate that "craft" has at least some influence, while "small batch" again trails the rest of the field, with one-quarter (25%) saying  it has at least some influence on their purchases.

Time to limit "limited editions?"
But how saturated is the market becoming with labels like these? Currently, Americans find the use of "limited edition" to be anything but limited. Nearly two-thirds (64%) believe this term is over-used in marketing for food or beverage products. Half of adults say the same of "handmade/handcrafted" (52%), "craft" (51%), "artisan/artisanal" (51%), and "custom" (50%), while smaller percentages say the same of "small batch" – only one-third (32%) feel the phrase is over-used, while 37% say it is neither over- nor under-used.

"Craft"ing the message
Some descriptions are just better suited for one product over another. For example, beer best taps into the "craft" description; when presented with an extensive list of food and beverage categories and asked which fits with each label, just over half (52%) of drinking-age Americans feel beer is an appropriate fit for "craft" – the top selection by a wide margin. One-quarter (25%) say liquor/spirits/cocktails is a strong fit for "craft" while 20% say the same about wine and 27% don't see "craft" as an appropriate fit with any of the product categories tested.

"Handmade/handcrafted" may be best suited to foods on the sweeter side, as baked goods (46%), jam/jelly/preserves (45%), and chocolate/candy (43%) are all seen as appropriate fits by over four in ten Americans.

The items most seen as appropriate fits for "artisan/artisanal" descriptions are cheese (38%) and baked goods (36%), followed more distantly by coffee (23%).

Beverages prove to be good fits for both "limited edition" and "small batch," with three in ten Americans aged 21+ saying wine (30% & 27%, respectively) and one quarter saying liquor/spirits/cocktails (28% & 25%, respectively) are appropriate fits. All adults also agree soda/carbonated beverages (28%) are a good fit for "limited edition." Stepping away from the beverage category, 26% say jam/jelly/preserves is a good fit for "small batch" branding.

"Custom" shows the most diversity in responses, with 24% saying pet food and 23% saying coffee are appropriate fits. However, it should be noted that 39% say none of the food/beverage options presented are an appropriate fit for this choice.

Generations divide
Among the questions of high quality, influence on purchasing decisions, and over use of the terms, key differences exist between generations. Millennials are more likely than their older counterparts to say "handmade/handcrafted," "craft," and "small batch" communicate that a product is high quality:

  • "Handmade/Handcrafted:" 66% Millennials vs. 58% Gen Xers, 55% Baby Boomers & 69% Matures
  • "Craft:" 53% vs. 45%, 40% & 31%
  • "Small batch:" 39% vs. 31%, 27%, & 19%

Furthermore, Millennials are more likely than all other generations to say "limited edition," "custom," "artisan/artisanal," and "craft" have at least some influence on their purchase decisions.

  • "Limited edition:" 46% Millennials vs. 46% Gen Xers, 31% Baby Boomers & 25% Matures
  • "Custom:" 46% vs. 35%, 30% vs. 27%
  • "Artisan/Artisanal:" 44% vs. 34%, 31% & 28%
  • "Craft:" 39% vs. 30%, 28% vs. 21%

On the other hand, it's the older generations who are more likely to tout them as over-used:

  • Baby Boomers are more likely than Millennials and Gen Xers to say both "limited edition" (69% vs. 62% & 58%, respectively) and "craft" (57% vs. 47% & 49%, respectively) are over-used.
  • Matures are more likely than Millennials and Gen Xers to say the same about "custom" (60% vs. 46% & 47%) and "small batch" (41% vs. 28% & 29%).

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This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between May 20 and 26, 2015 among 2,225 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll® #52, August 26, 2015
By Allyssa Birth, Senior Research Analyst, The Harris Poll

About The Harris Poll®
Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world. The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public. New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly. For more information, or to see other recent polls, please visit our new website,

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