More and more craft beer breweries are opening every year. The industry is strong, and times are good, right? But, with a growing industry comes increased competition. Do people think one brewing company is as good as the next? A brewer’s confidence about their beers’ superior taste alone is not enough to keep consumer loyalty. Creating a differentiating brand that people will connect with, and remember, is the key between success and mere survival.
Often, breweries use identical marketing tactics–tap rooms, tasting events and partnerships with mobile food vendors. These tactics no doubt help sell beer, but do little to enhance the differentiation of their brand. In the eyes of Joe Consumer, one brewery easily becomes alarming similar to another.
A strong brand story and great package design is going to be the first defense against the onslaught of competition. The craft brewing industry is growing like gangbusters, but the overall beer drinking market is flat. This is a double-whammy; craft breweries are competing against more and more peers for slice of a pie that’s not growing. Just as important is that a strong brand story is not only something that is memorable, helping a brewery sell more beer, but is easy for a consumer to remember and recommend to his or her friends and relatives. Word-of-mouth is one of the most effective types of marketing available…and it costs nothing.
Creating unique, well-branded packaging also allows more opportunities to target different consumer groups. Who are your customers? Are they conservatives, or are they hipsters? There is a big difference between the single twenty-somethings that go to beer events and middle-aged parents with kids who don’t. You can reach the the former in person, but the later only through your brand; typically as seen in its packaging. Does your packaging have the correct shelf stand-off? Is it positioned correctly, clearly different from the competition, and speaking to all of your potential consumers?
In the fun fever-pitch growth of craft brewing, it’s not about fitting in. It’s about standing out.
Sources 1,2,3: Brewer’s Association