Tasting rooms are often the soul of a brewery where customers are immersed in the brands they love. They take in the menu, any artwork or décor and have a host of feelings associated with their experience. In 2024, there is more competition for consumers in the craft beer industry with approximately 10,000 breweries in operation, but the competition does not end there. Today’s consumer can get quality craft beverages in pubs, restaurants and a bevy of other establishments. Customers seek a holistic experience extending to inviting atmospheres, anticipatory service, engaging staff and immersive events.
What do people mention about taproom experiences nowadays?
Beyond beverage variety and food, Craft Beer Advisory Services’ research shows taproom visitors mention service, staff, environment, and entertainment most often. All of these experience factors are actually mentioned more than specific beers they’re enjoying, ultimately indicating the beer alone is not enough to create a holistic experience.
Impressing with staff and service
One in three negative taproom experiences in 2023 were due in part poor first impressions. The lack of acknowledgement upon entering, a haphazard “welcome,” and poor ordering instructions are all to blame. Training staff to show positive body language, acknowledge customers even when busy, and offering obvious instruction for getting a beer are easy wins to eliminate a third of poor experiences. Aside from the actual taste of beer and food, the entry experience ranked the most important moment in a taproom visit.
Entertainment and events
There was a notable surge in private event popularity unfolding between 2022 and 2023, gaining more customer mentions than traditional events like live music and trivia. Events like engagement parties, corporate events, baby showers, and other occasions were mentioned more in 2023 at craft breweries than previous years.
Events tied to local vendors and charitable causes were also correlated to customers returning to taprooms. Breweries embracing initiatives that foster community engagement and support causes consistent with their brand proved successful in connecting with local communities and even reaching groups that may not have entered the brewery otherwise.
Perks of offering holistic experiences
Women mention non-beverage factors in their brewery experiences up to two times as much as men do. In turn, breweries offering holistic experiences position themselves as magnets for a diverse customer base, encompassing families and the increasingly influential Gen Z demographic. By crafting a comprehensive experience that caters to variety, everyone will be able to enjoy something during their visit. The importance of appealing to a broad customer base cannot be overstated, as it not only ensures a steady flow of regular patrons but also opens the door to new demographics. In an era where consumer choices are limitless, breweries must think beyond traditional brewery competitors and offer an experience rivaling all other establishments in their locale.
Michael Varda is the Founder at Craft Beer Advisory Services, a market research and analytics firm exclusively dedicated to the craft beer industry. Their work helps craft breweries understand their audience, increase sales, and sharpen marketing with consumer intelligence research and analytics.