People love to talk about your beer. People love to come and enjoy your newest offerings. People also (typically) love to wear clothes in public. People rock their favorites shirts more than they enjoy their favorite beers. Here are 11 tips to help sell more merchandise.
Please, please, please don’t hide your merch display in the back corner of your taproom. Make sure it is at any easy to see location and displayed in an appealing manner. Keep it organized and be sure to have prices posted.
Put merch on your menu
Don’t forget to also include basic merch prices on your menu. As a guest scans their drink options, now is a good time to get them thinking about their final purchase. Every little reminder helps.
Have your staff rep your brand
While not all breweries have a uniform policy, one thing for certain is breweries in which staff wear the brewery’s shirts will sell more of their merchandise. Staff wearing your brewery’s clothing is a sign of pride in their jobs. This pride is contagious and can carry over to your guests. Who doesn’t want to look like the super cool mustachioed dude behind the bar with a sweet shirt?
Have your staff suggest merchandise
In a prior study we discovered that brewery staff only encourage guests to make a to-go purchase 19.5% of the time. When they’re not asked, a guest makes a to-go purchase only 9% of the time. When they are asked, this increases to 49%. While I don’t have figures on the merchandise version of this question, I can guarantee that asking a guest if you’d like to take home one of your new logo t-shirts or a comfy looking hoodie on a crisp Fall night won’t hurt your sales. Get your staff in the routine of finishing up a guest’s visit with a little “can you picture yourself wearing that?”
In most situations, don’t just throw “Andrew’s Brewing Company” on the front and “ABC” on the back. Geez, that would be awful. Put time into crafting your merchandise designs as you do your recipes. They are a reflection of your brewery and be sure to put out a product you’re proud of.
Limited edition shirts
Craft beer fans clamor over small batch beer releases. Give these aficionados a shirt to go along with it. I’m not necessarily talking the “My brother-in-law went to a beer release and all I got was this crappy shirt,” but create a unique design that pairs perfectly with your limited release. Have a craft fair or other unique event coming up? Be sure to put a special merch stand weaved in with all your vendors to sell event tees.
Give it away
This may see counterintuitive, but the more people wearing your clothing, the more it will be seen. Give away a free shirt to the first X number of customers at a special event or the first to try a new release. Everyone loves free and these lucky recipients will now share their excitement for the shirt with others. Once again, the passion is contagious.
Many states don’t allow you to give away alcohol, but most will allow you to give away merchandise up to a certain wholesale value. Incentivize guests to frequent your brewery and reward them with a free piece of swag after every 10 pints. This isn’t technically free to them, as they’ve made a pint-size investment, but it does give them something to brag about.
Build a program stand
Who’s been to a sporting event and seen someone hawking programs to everyone who enters? There’s a reason for this. It’s easy to convince people on the way in to make a purchase – they haven’t spent any money yet. And easier to convince those leaving a brewery to make that final purchase – of course, they want a souvenir to remember how much fun they had. Position a small merchandise stand near your entrance and staff it during busy shifts with an employee solely responsible for encouraging merch sales. “Don’t leave without one!”
Offer shirts for the whole family
Not everyone drinks beer, but mostly everyone wears clothes. Include onesies for the little brew baby, leashes for your dog that loves tagging along, jackets for the one friend nice enough to be DD but forgot to dress appropriately. These are spur of the moment purchases that will happen more than you think, especially around the holidays.
Make it affordable
Let’s get real. You’re a brewery, not the hottest fashion line. You’re in the business of selling pints and everything else is gravy. Lowering a shirt from $20 to $10 might not make you the same profit, but it may result in twice as many people picking up one. Shirts are marketing. Offer your merchandise at affordable prices to encourage guests to leave wearing your brand.
Build an army of walking brand advocates. Merchandise is ultimately free marketing and it should be your goal to get as many people as possible rocking your designs. The more people wearing your gear around town, the more people who will have your brewery on their mind. I leave you with one final question, can you wear the brewery shirt to the brewery?
Andrew Coplon is the Founder of Secret Hopper, a mystery shopping company for craft beer businesses, and Craft Beer Professionals, a community dedicated to the growth and betterment of our industry. Check out all of his CBB articles here.