It’s no secret that one of the biggest challenges for craft beer companies today is the ever-increasing number of breweries in the market. The fact that consumers have so many options to choose from is why it is so important to understand how they choose their beer. By understanding consumers and how they buy, you can better determine how to position your product in the marketplace.
To begin, we need to understand the types of beer shoppers that exist. To illustrate this idea, we asked people around the office a few questions about their beer buying tendencies:
How do you choose your beer in a store?
“I choose based on the flavor notes most of the time; more often than not I choose an ale or wheat beer.” – Morgan
“Go with what I know!” – Nate
“I like to try different things so it’s usually going to come down to how well the brewery describes the beer and how I am feeling that day as well as what I am doing. For example, if I am gonna be kayak fishing on the river I will usually go with a beer that is crushable. But if I am feeling like just kicking back and chilling on the porch I may go with something like a bourbon barrel aged stout.” – Scot
How long do you spend in a liquor store (on average)?
“Because I know what I want, I spend no longer than I need. I don’t go “shopping” in Liquor stores.” – Michael
“30-45 minutes” – Scot
“I try not to spend too much time but a good average would be 15min-20min.” – Rita
These answers gave us a picture of how beer shoppers might be categorized, and when combined with some additional research, we came up with three basic categories:
How to influence the 70% at the point of sale
Since 70% of beer buyers make their decision in-store, it is imperative that you have a strong in-store marketing strategy to influence consumers when it matters most. So we asked:
Are there any external influencers that affect your decision-making process?
“Packaging – Its all about the description of the beer.” – Scot
“Not so much, but I do prefer to buy from local breweries when I can.” – Morgan
“Depending on the store, I do check the walls for our signs. When they are visible when I first walk in, on large wall, I am reminded of a brand to help make my final decision.” – Rita
Part 1: Packaging
Product packaging is an undeniably important factor in how well your beer sells. It gives consumers a brand image to connect to, a description of of the product and can help distinguish your beer from others on the shelves. There are several approaches to take when it comes to a good packaging design, but they ultimately boil down to knowing what type of consumer you are targeting and what will appeal to them the most. Some customer profiles brands can appeal to include:
One of the fastest growing categories of beer consumers are those who look for seasonal beers when they shop. This has led many brands to rotate beers seasonally, and some of those who are most successful at this play-up the seasonality of the beer on the packaging. Some brands who have done a great job at this include 3 Sheeps Brewing, 21st Amendment Brewery, Anderson Valley Brewing Company and Port Brewing:
Youngsters, youths, whatever you call them – this demographic is a significant portion of the craft beer consumer market. In fact, they account for 57% of all craft beer drinkers! For many of them, the craft beer boom coincided with their introduction into alcoholic products, making them open to trying new products and used to having a wide variety to choose from. Millenials often look for products that they identify with, rather than just going with what the masses are drinking. To try to capture their business, many brands have designed their packaging to appeal to the tastes and trends of the younger generation, such as these beers from Flying Dog, 3 Floyds Brewing Co., Pipeworks Brewing Co., and Against the Grain Brewery:
Craft beer and art tend to go hand-in-hand, so many brands have focused their packing to reflect the craftier side of craft beer. These picture-perfect beers from Mikkeller, Hop Butcher For The World, Browar Maryensztadt and Commonwealth Brewing appeal to consumers looking for beers to not only drink, but to show off as well:
Another great way to attract customers to your beer is to focus the packaging on the flavor and ingredients of the beer. Many consumers are looking for a certain flavor, and with hundreds of beers to sort through, the products that visually describe the flavor often win out. These beers by Infusion Brewing Co., Charles Wells, Odell, and High Water Brewing look so good you can almost taste them!
Part 2: Signs & Displays – coming soon!
Packaging is vital, but with more than 6,000 breweries and counting, it may not be enough. Another solid strategy is to reinforce your brand at the point of sale through signage and displays. This works for both loyal and undecided customers, but in different ways.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog, where we will give an in-depth look at signs and displays at the point of purchase, including strategy, cost, design, placement and more!