Beer and cider drinkers are the most likely shoppers to opt for smaller brands over market leaders, claims a new survey.

The findings of the global PeopleShop report is further good news for craft and niche brewers, which are already benefiting from growing consumer interest and the return to growth of cask ale volume sales after 20 years of decline.

Some 13,000 consumers - including 2,000 Brits - were polled for the survey, which found 40% of cider shoppers and 38% of beer shoppers preferred smaller brands.

Shopper agency Arc said the study also showed alcohol shoppers were highly price sensitive and lacked brand loyalty.

With the exception of spirits, alcoholic drinks topped the list of products shoppers were most likely to experiment with when it came to brand choice. The survey found that 71% of shoppers liked to switch between wine brands, followed by 68% for cider, 64% for RTDs and 56% for beer and lager.

Consumers’ willingness to experiment has contributed to the recent boom in sales of craft and niche brews, and has prompted many retailers to increase their range of world and craft beers. Last month, for example, Waitrose announced it was adding a new own-label range following double-digit growth in single bottles of world beers.

World beer specialist Miller Brands, which supplies brands such as Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Tyskie and Lech, said the world beers sector was up 8.8% by value, outperforming the 4.1% growth in total lager [Nielsen 52w/e 18 August 2012].

“The sector is evolving - during the past year we have seen increasing interest in craft beer,” said Miller Brands category controller Andy Wingate, adding this was reflected in the 1.6% volume hike in cask ale announced in the 2012 Cask Report last week.