NEW YORK: Mobile plays an important role in consumers' choice of craft beers, as the growing selection available means drinkers are researching them online, often in the store itself while preparing to purchase.

A research study by marketing and advertising agency XenoPsi surveyed more than 1,000 US consumers, seeking to understand their smartphone usage and its impact on beer purchase behaviour.

This found that three quarters (74%) of craft beer drinkers used their mobile to help them in their choice before they went to a store; and almost 60% had turned to their smartphones while shopping in-store, with an even split between Android and iOS users.

Seven in ten (72%) said they were more likely to try a new beer if they could read something about it. And among those using mobile at the shelf, 31% were searching for reviews.

More than three quarters (78%) of those using a smartphone then bought a beer they had never purchased before, while 18% reported buying more than usual.

"Craft beer marketers should take advantage of this critical point in the buying cycle to come up with creative tactics to drive their message home, reaching consumers where they're spending most of their time: on mobile," said MichaelAaron Flicker, XenoPsi president.

Further evidence of the role of mobile came from The Drinks Business, which noted the growth of beer-related apps such as Untappd and Beer Citizen which allow users to discover, rate and share beers.

The real enthusiasts who download apps may also be more healthy than the average American, according to a recent Harris Poll study, drinking less and exercising more.

A survey of 1,978 adults over the age of 21 found that 73% of craft beer fans view drinking alcohol as an occasional treat, rising to 80% among 21-34 year-old craft beer drinkers.

Further, 57% said they exercised several times a week, compared to 52% of regular drinkers.

Danelle Kosmal, VP/Beverage Alcohol Practice at researcher Nielsen suggested such drinkers could be targeted via fitness-related social events.

"It is a great way for craft drinkers to stick with their fitness plans, while still engaging in a fun, social activity, and then enjoying a beer with friends who share similar fitness goals and interests."

Data sourced from XenoPsi, The Drinks Business, Fox News; additional content by Warc staff