Valuation and Collaboration Among Craft Brewers: Early Insights from an Analysis of Consumer Ratings

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 17:45
Oral Presentation
Paul-Brian MCINERNEY, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA
In pursuing the problem of (e)valuation in sociology, this paper is concerned with the collaborative dynamics that create value. Based on a unique dataset of 225 collaborations among craft brewers, we analyze which combinations of organizations increase consumer ratings of the beers produced. Craft brewing provides a fascinating laboratory for the study of how consumers rate the products of collaborative formations. Collaborations between craft brewers result in one-off products, beers that exist for a limited period of time, rarely to be produced again. Such collaborations occur frequently and exist over the course of several weeks or months, until the product is brewed, packaged, and distributed. At that point, collaborators return to their daily brewing operations. With the help of several research assistants, we created a dataset of craft brewer all collaborations in which at least one brewer was located in Illinois. The data are compiled from websites on which consumers rate beers: RateBeer and Untappd.

Initial analyses shows that brewers that follow certain strategies are likely to collaborate with others pursuing certain strategies. For example, we find that brewers that engage in serial hook-ups are likely to do so with brewers that are outside of their core networks while monogamists are likely to seek out those who engage in serial hook-ups. These strategies have consequences for the valuation of their efforts. The products of craft brewers who collaborate with those outside of their core networks consistently receive higher consumer ratings than other forms of collaboration. We suspect that certain collaborative arrangements facilitate authenticity or novelty in the marketplace, which consumers reward with higher ratings. We plan to test hypotheses related to whether authenticity or novelty are driving changes in consumer valuations of products.