Often imitated, but never replicated, the craft beer industry is built on the faces, stories and flavors behind each carefully crafted brew. Unique flavors and passionate owners are among the many traits that draw droves to the beloved local establishments.
Craft has increasingly fallen on mainstream lips as craft brewers grew 13 percent in 2015 to own 12 percent of the overall U.S. beer market. With 99 percent of those establishments operating on smaller distribution and minimal marketing budgets there’s a sustained pressure to grow in an excessively crowded space. The truth is craft breweries don’t compete on the big screen like mainstream lagers, but rather they grow organically through word of mouth and the power of one to one interactions.
After 30 years, one of Canada’s oldest microbreweries, Granville Island Brewing, is no stranger to the craft industry and continues to preserve its original DNA. Craft Brewing Business asked us to offer some insights into how Granville is revolutionizing its outreach and growth in this crowded and competitive space and below are five keys to that success.
1. Watch out for analysis paralysis
When we launch a new beer at Granville Island Brewing, we don’t stand behind a glass wall and conduct focus groups; we jump in head-first and brew the beer we love. Then the beer is shared in growlers or our small batch programs, and consumers decide on the direction of our brand. It’s in our DNA to approach every aspect of our lives (and business) with the same passion and trial-and-error philosophy. If you analyze a situation for too long, it’s very easy to become trapped in your own revolving door with no forward progress.
2. Social media will only take you so far
The craft industry is built on the stories of the beer and the people behind it. Those stories live on social media, so much so that 75 percent of the social conversation about beer is specifically craft related. Brewers should leverage that social presence and bring those interactions to life. You create a strong field of advocates, born of these deeper engagements, which snowball as they champion your brew and exponentially grow new conversations.
3. Leverage external factors
Missing an opportunity by disregarding what is readily available to you is the worst thing you can do. Granville Island is the second largest tourist destination in Canada and sees about 10 million visitors every year. That’s 10 million potential conversations that could lead to deeper engagements. The same can be said for the millions of visitors to Toronto’s Harbourfront near Steam Whistle Brewing. We need visitors to come through the door, be engaged and opt into our database so our interactions can continue regardless of where our advocates are from.
4. Knowledge is power
We have a range of visitors flow through the doors, including locals and many tourists. It’s important to know who those people are, beyond their postal code, and for them to remember the Granville experience. This two-way conversation allows us to pinpoint which markets are the most engaged so that, when the time is right, we can focus our efforts on expanding Granville to regions we’ve shown proven interest. Gains in those markets on mainstream lagers, which account for 92.2 percent of the beer market, represent immense growth opportunities.
5. Use resources wisely
For many marketing teams, people resources are becoming scarce, and the knee-jerk reaction is to look for shortcuts and as many free tools as possible. The problem is that many brands will build a solution on free tools that become extremely limiting and time intensive in the long run. By investing our resources into two tools that sync together (Hootsuite and Limelight Platform), we have a scalable and seamless solution. Many of the insights shared here have been made possible with one of our key partners, Limelight Platform, which facilitates our live marketing activities and tracks and measures the return on investment of our in-person customer engagement.
This excellent article was provided by Dave Nicholls, general manager at Granville Island Brewing, and their experiential software solution Limelight Platform. We thank him for letting us post it.