I like beer. A lot. So naturally, I have been thrilled with the onslaught of craft beer breweries in my local beer-drinking bubble within the past two years. As this is a phenomenon occurring throughout the United States, it’s hard to imagine that all of them will be able to sustain sales and customers as more and more enter the market each day. So how does a brewery ride the wave and then survive when the craze dies down? What will keep craft beer drinkers coming back time and time again? Here are a few marketing suggestions.
Make Me Feel Special
If you are going to hang with your peeps for a few hours at a brewery, you want it feel like it’s an EXPERIENCE. I’ve been to many breweries, with various types of décor, music, scenery and crowds. No matter what the scene is, there is a feeling of beer-drinking bonding with fellow brewery-goers. So make it special – a place they want to come back to repeatedly. Create a unique atmosphere; drinking beer is fun after all! Make it funky. Make it different. Make it appealing to both men and women. Make it feel like they are at the coolest place in town. And usually a tasting flight is a consumer’s first experience with a brewery, so make the presentation memorable.
You’re at a brewery to drink beer. Period. However, make me want to stay (and come back). Bands make the brewery outing more of an actual event. Hardywood Brewery, in Richmond, Va., has a bocce court. Strangeways Brewing, also in Richmond, has Cards Against Humanity throw downs and Beer & Burlesque shows. (Hello, how cool is that?) Food trucks, trivia games, corn hole, ladies nights, bring-your-dog days, hop picking parties, pairing dinners, beer education classes, tours…there are so many opportunities to enhance the brewery experience and give consumers reasons to return. Oh, and please have food! It’s definitely helpful with the higher alcohol content of craft beer. And having some type of outdoor space is key. During pleasant weather, there’s nothing like drinking beer in the fresh air.
Generally, craft beer consumers are eager to learn and experience the latest beer trends. Therefore, employees should be able to talk about the beer in detail – ingredients, flavors, brewing methods and special qualities. “Teaching” about the beer creates immediate engagement, and it is information the drinker can use in future “impress-your-friends” conversations. And keep switching up the selection to follow (or start) trends; seasonal flavors, special releases and limited-quantity beers give consumers something to look forward to. While brewery-goers want to taste new exciting beers, keep a few good ol’ standbys they know they can count on.
Make Me Like You
I love seeing breweries out and about in the community. Festivals, fundraisers, community events, ball games…it’s justifying my decision that I like you. Beer drinkers like to see “their” craft beers at places other than the brewery. Sell merchandise – it’s free advertising! Of course, social media is important. Loyal beer-drinkers want to know what’s happening with you, so keep me updated with engaging, entertaining or educational posts.
Wow, writing this post really makes me want to make a brewery stop tonight. Anyone want to join me?