By Roger Mittag
Cold, refreshing, thirst-quenching and sociability have, for quite some time, been the catch phrases used in the marketing of beer. Throughout much of the 20th century, beer has been seen as the blue-collar drink of the masses but this antiquated image is quickly dissipating. Beer is now being given its rightful place at the dinner table and the complexity and variety of beer is becoming a desired attribute.
In the past, brewers were able to lure consumers to specific brands by creating an emotional attachment by showcasing people enjoying beer at parties or at social events. Beer drinkers were loyal to a fault to certain beers throughout their entire life and marketing and advertising campaigns centred on solidifying the bond between consumer and brewer.
We are now entering a vastly different world of marketing – one that centres on local, fresh, quality and new beer styles. New generations of beer drinkers are departing from the old loyalty concepts and are quickly driving toward beer experiences which include trying a variety of different beers. The sociability aspect of beer is taking on new meanings – it’s no longer about volume but rather the beer drinker is searching for novel ways of sharing stories over a beer.
Beer and the restaurateur
These new-age beer drinkers are actively looking for places to enjoy beer. Marketing for the on-premise operator is taking on new meaning. Social networking is one of the keys to reaching out to these folks as well as taking advantage of existing marketing efforts by brewers. It is crucial, now more than ever, to view beer not as “just beer” but a way to entice a new group of guests. Beer is extremely profitable toward the operation of any restaurant and can also become a competitive advantage.
There’s been a lot of debate on whether promotions around beer actually work. Is there really a trip being offered? Do we really need another hat or t-shirt? The bigger concern should be for the brewer and publican in this case. Does a promotion actually change consumer behaviour so much that the drinker is willing to switch their regular brand for the new one? Observations have shown the opposite: We are willing to try but there needs to be a compelling reason why we would entertain a new beer.
Brewers are like chefs. These creative architects of beer take a tremendous amount of pride in developing great beer. The time and effort of creating quality is something they take very seriously and so should you. Once the restaurateur has made the effort to create a great quality draught system and has educated his or her staff on how to best serve beer to the guest, they should tell people.
Marketing Tip No. 1 – Broadcast the fact that you have great beer – the right temperature, the right glass, the right pour and the right draught system are important facts to share with a thirsty audience.
Local and fresh
The local movement is alive and well. Beer drinkers along with foodies are embracing local foods and beers. It is a well-known fact that the beer experience is better closer to home. Any beer produced in Canada is fresher than imports and therefore tastes different (some would say better). There are many great imported beers but it is obvious that local beers have a huge place in the hearts and throats of our guests.
Marketing Tip No. 2 – Talk about your local beer selection as well as your local foods. Go a step further and start matching up local beers with food menu items that are grown locally. In fact, create a new way of listing your beers: Instead of using pricing as the strategy, consider the concept of location. Create a new menu under these headings: Local / Import / Classics
New and innovative
For far too long, we have had a limited option on styles of beer available. This is no longer the case! Brewers are now creating innovative beer styles that are attracting the interest of beer consumers. The cycle of change is driving the industry now and it’s in your best interest to take advantage of that.
Marketing Tip No. 3 – Use one of your taps as a rotating selection of local beers. Then, let everyone know that you will be featuring new beers on a regular basis. This allows you to attract new guests while keeping your existing clientele coming back for more. There are also quite a few on-premise operators who are using “Tap Takeovers” (where a majority of the draught taps are from one brewery) or “Cask Nights” (where local brewers produce one-off beers that are dispensed from small kegs called firkins).
Beer is enhanced by the design and development of proper glassware. Not only does it figure strongly in delivering aroma and flavour to the guest, it serves as a tremendous marketing tool. Glassware suppliers like Zenan Custom Cresting and Brand Concepts are changing the way we all look at beer. Even if you chose not to use brewer-supplied glassware, you still have the option of choosing the right glass to enhance your guests’ beer experiences.
Marketing Tip No. 4 – Create a space behind the bar for your glassware. The display of glassware serves to showcase your brands as well as highlighting the fact that you respect the way beer is poured and served. Go a step further and create your own branded glassware that guests can purchase for use at home.
There is a new trend coming from south of the border that has hospitality providers refusing anything that is branded – unbranded glasses, unbranded tap handles, no POS. This new focus is unhealthy for the beer industry because it reduces all beers to just a liquid. There have been studies done at the University of California Berkley that have shown that consumers will gladly pay more for a properly poured beer in the right branded glass.
These new-age beer drinkers are willing to invest in a great beer experience and your excellent marketing strategies can bring them to you.
About the author:
Roger Mittag is the owner of Thirst For Knowledge Inc® (www.thirstforknowledge.ca) and the founder of Prud’homme Beer Certification® (www.tfkbeer.com) and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.