• Paul Della Maggiora

Craft Breweries get creative during COVID

Nielsen recently published a report with both bad news and good news for craft breweries: While overall alcohol sales are up for the year, the craft brewery industry saw the least amount of growth (15.4% vs. 27.1% for wine and 31.7% for spirits). But something more vital came out of the pandemic: online sales saw mammoth growth.

Despite most breweries not being able to ship through the mail, the buy-online/pickup-in-taproom model’s growth went from nearly nothing to often being the primary source of revenue. This makes sense, given the shifting capacity and closure mandates in 2020.

Nielsen’s report anticipates that consumer behavior is permanently changed–this isn’t a temporary anomaly. Takeout, local delivery, and in some cases shipping direct to consumers across state lines means each brewery has to consider how they now market to their customers.

Additionally, the report shows that craft beer is seeing a reduction in retail shelf space, which means local breweries need ways to get their beer directly into the hands of their customers.

What does this mean for you as a brewery? Is there positive news in these observations and indications of the path forward? We think there is.

  • Sell in larger pack quantities (24 and 30 cans). Consumers are stocking up on the brands they love. We’ve even heard of families buying separate refrigerators to keep their beer at the ready!

  • Invest in Direct-To-Consumer marketing. While breweries have implemented some forms of e-commerce, many struggle with how to encourage higher online sales with loyal customers. It means they have to expand beyond Facebook groups and email blasts to influence buyer behavior.

Breweries have the power to build their direct-to-consumer reach, protecting considerable margins normally given to distribution. GoBeep’s targeted mobile marketing and mug club management software enables breweries to learn what each customer wants and market directly to them, regardless of whether they purchase on-premise or online.

Our industry was hit hard last year. But some breweries have survived and even thrived by creatively adapting to their customers’ needs. As the report concludes: “… as evidenced by the continued growth and demand for both off-premise sales and on-premise take-out orders, there is ample room to rebalance the alcohol industry even in the face of persistent COVID-19 restrictions.”

The key? Know your customer and personalize your marketing.

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