Differentiating Yourself in a Crowded Craft Beer Market

Which to choose?

By Brandon Boyd

With the tremendous growth in the craft beer market, more and more customers are enjoying a wide variety of beer styles and dumping their old familiar brands for offerings from new and innovative breweries.

This growth not only brings new customers, but also new competitors as the market grows. At this time, more than ever before, breweries have an opportunity to capture a bigger piece of this expanding pie. One way to go about this is to experiment with new hop varieties, and/or esoteric beer styles like farmhouse, sour and barrel-aged beers. These revived offerings give the consumer something new to taste, something different they may not have experienced before. This strategy can go awry when too much effort is being placed into beer that may not ever become a staple style for the consumer, who ultimately stocks the fridge with beer with a more every-day drinkable style.

At a recent beer event, I found myself, a lover of esoteric styles, searching for something simple and a little more “drinkable” when all that could be found were imperial IPAs, fruit beers and strong, dark varieties. Experimentation will always be a part of the process, but it’s important to keep in mind that the end goal in any business is to provide an end product the consumer cannot live without, and hopefully buys a lot of.

As an alternative to this new product strategy, what is being done marketing-wise to support the staple styles your brewery produces? You know, the hefeweizens, amber ales, and porters the consumer buys a 12-pack of, instead of a single 22-ounce bottle?

Drifter adWidmer has begun a magazine, promotion and billboard advertising campaign backing up their Drifter offering, that shows clever marketing efforts and product experimentation can live under the same roof. Customers are able to taste something new, while still getting a drinkable style they are more likely to stock up on. In these advertisements, they talk about the unique differences in their product, or unique selling proposition, letting the customer know why they should give it a try.

By focusing on proper recipe development, experimentation, drinkable styles, and the right messaging through advertisement, smart breweries can compete for this growing market share. Making money and creative brewing can co-exist after all.

Brandon Boyd hails from BDC Advertising in Oregon City and can be found crafting marketing plans behind a desk for area businesses, when not out chasing “new releases” from area public houses and watering holes or homebrewing some of his favorite beer styles.

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