Any legal-aged drinker knows that craft beer is hot right now. It’s not uncommon to find at least one brewery near where you live or work, and often more. And while the styles and taproom environments may differ among local players, we are reaching a tipping point where markets cannot support brewery glut. Or quite frankly the consumer tastes will change faster than your brewery can cater to operationally, leading you to fall out of favor until tastes change again. With a record number of new brewery openings in 2017 (997), there were also 165 closings – a 70% increase over 2016. The industry is about to experience a Darwin-esque survival-of-the-fittest moment, so the question is, on which side of evolution will you fall?
Not to worry, there’s still plenty of space for brands to succeed and thrive in this environment! In addition to great liquid, you must find your point of differentiation and secure your niche quickly. And constantly innovate (on both the beer and marketing sides) or get left behind. Craft brewing was built by do-it-yourselfers, passionate about creating and driven to succeed…but without the history and steady growth enjoyed by peers in other craft beverage segments. Leaving craft brewers to fend for themselves in a crowded market that will only get more competitive as consumers become educated on styles; preferences continue to change; and the local beer buzz wears off.
The goal should be establishing storytelling capabilities internally, starting with the basics: origin story, company mission, brand personality, etc. Every craft brewer has a unique story to tell – one that goes beyond starting as a homebrewer – but surprisingly few make it easy for customers to find! Drinkers don’t want to be told why they should care…they want to discover it for themselves. And good storytelling gives them cues to do just that.
Our team understands beer! Scott started homebrewing in 2009, winning 6 ribbons from the Orange County Fair from 2010-2012. In 2012 he began working with BJ’s Restaurants, Inc., managing the BJ’s Premier Rewards Loyalty Program and Call Center. His interest in homebrewing opened up opportunities to work on the repositioning of BJ’s Signature and Seasonal beer offerings and start brewing operations in Texas as an Assistant Brewer. From Texas Scott moved to Chico, CA, in 2016 to help tell the untold story of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., managing advertising, digital, social, public relations and the national event programs.