According to an August 2022 Untappd Insights, consumers are drinking earlier in the day. Trace Smith, CEO of Next Glass, believes “that more work-from-home flexibility as well as a dramatic increase in the percentage of employees permanently working remotely would lead to earlier drinking occasions. Data from our Untappd users bears that out.”
So, how can you capitalize on this trend? Your goal should be twofold: to attract guests to your taproom and to fill your taproom during earlier hours. As you will see, these strategies do not always revolve around beer, but rather represent ways to transform your taproom into a destination.
Make it an occasion
This is when you take an event that is already happening (i.e. holiday, sporting event) and make it an occasion at your taproom. Forgotten Star’s recent first day of school celebration for parents is a perfect example of this one.
The first day of school was happening independently of Forgotten Star; however, Forgotten Star created an occasion for parents to spend it at their taproom. They opened early, offered beer-mosas, donuts, and more, to attract their audience to come in after dropping their children off. They also offered drink specials for school staff, and the opportunity for them to get a free massage!
Another example of making it an occasion would be opening early to broadcast a European soccer game or opening early to allow people arriving for a local parade to spend a little time in your space.
- Create a list of 3 occasions happening in your community that you currently aren’t involved with.
- How can you partner and connect them to your taproom?
Create an occasion
This is when you pick a time earlier in the day and organize an event in that window. Schedule an acoustic songwriter to play at 11 a.m. and hope to attract an earlier crowd. Put together a weekend market to attract the brunch crowd. How about a Sunday morning trivia session focused on ’90s nostalgia? Perhaps a beer and breakfast pairing?
- Create your list now of 3 ideas that would bring people in earlier than usual.
Create a special occasion
An offshoot of the above idea, reach out to local organizations about hosting their meeting/events in your taproom. For companies working primarily remotely, encourage them to host a once amount early happy hour in your space. For organizations looking to find unique ways to bring their team together, suggest earlier hours to meet in an intimate setting.
Do not assume your neighboring businesses know you exist.
- Make a list right now of 10 groups that you think would be awesome to host small events in your space during non-peak hours.
- Shoot them an email introducing yourself and suggesting that they host their next shindig at your taproom.
Coffee and breakfast food
This one is slightly a cheat. You have a beautiful space, make it accessible to your guests during your pre-typical beer hours. Consider doubling as a coffee shop and give guests another reason to visit. Not fit to run your own coffee shop? Consider partnering with a breakfast/coffee food truck to offer the morning essentials and allow their guests to utilize your space. Additionally, this partnership may introduce new guests to your brand that may not have visited otherwise.
Work from Home to Work from Brewery
I tried my hardest not to use the word pandemic (or pivot) in this article, but here we go … As we all know, we saw a great shift in the number of people working from home. Working from home can get boring and stagnant. We all like a change of scenery. Promote your space as a place people can share your Wi-Fi and be productive. Worst case, they may buy a beer or two and you gain a little loyalty by giving up a seat during a typically slow time.
Hours of Operation
Do your hours of operation on Google match your hours of operation on Facebook and your hours of operation on your website? You get the point. Make sure your guests have the accurate information when you open. Additionally, don’t post on a Monday that your new Fall/Winter hours are starting that day. Give your guests ample heads up.
An educated customer is a better customer, even if that education is only about your hours. So, if you’re open early, make sure they’re aware. They just may visit.
- Make sure your hours of operation are correct on all platforms.
(I am not an expert of state laws, so consult your local alcohol authority before pursuing this option.)
We all like to be motivated. In addition to all your fun and exciting happenings, give your guests another reason to visit that will save them more and/or provide additional value. Discounted pours? Happy hour? Food specials? Before even promoting these specials, ask yourself, “would this motivate me to visit a brewery earlier?” If not, start over. Better yet, ask your guests what would encourage them to visit your taproom earlier in the day.
- Stop reading this on your phone and ask your guests right now what would motivate them to visit earlier in the day.
The moral of the story is that it takes work to attract guests at earlier hours. While the trends may show that consumers are day-drinking more, you need to give them a reason to choose your taproom for their safe consumption. Brainstorm, make them aware, and carve out your place as an earlier destination.
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 the craft beer industry. Check out all of his CBB articles here.