CHICAGO: Major breweries have been advised that they could see considerable growth if they develop craft-style beer as a recent report from Mintel reveals the US market will be worth $20bn in 2014.

The global market research firm said this meant craft beer sales have doubled over the past five years and found there is further potential because over half (55%) of respondents in its survey said they're willing to pay more for the product.

Although Mintel did not provide figures for its sample base, its research was a nationwide poll, covering different American regions and generations.

It found craft drinkers from the Midwest are significantly more likely to support a particular brewery (29%) while respondents from the South are least likely to prefer craft beer (16%).

Overall, almost one-quarter (23%) of respondents drink craft beer compared to 30% of consumers who only drink other varieties.

Interestingly, Mintel found that craft beer drinkers tend to have a strong "sense of self", believing that a particular brand says a lot about themselves, and over half (53%) like to share their knowledge via word of mouth and social gatherings.

This trend is most noticeable in western states, the report found, where 57% agreed that a choice of brand said a lot about you – a view shared by 70% of the 25-34 age group.

Beth Bloom, a food and drink analyst at Mintel, said there is a strong sense of community among craft beer drinkers, who like to share knowledge with each other and are "highly invested in the products that they choose".

"Not only that, but craft brands share exposure through collaboration, a practice almost wholly unique to the craft beer market," she added.

She said "style" is the leading purchase driver for these consumers, suggesting that the craft beer boom has much in common with the "wine renaissance" of the past decade.

"They may not be brand loyal in the strictest sense, but they enjoy supporting local breweries and sharing in that sense of community that the smaller breweries have instilled," she said. "This presents vast opportunity for product trial and customisation, which will keep the market interesting in the near future."

Data sourced from Mintel; additional content by Warc