Grainne Byrne explains why, with the revolution of craft beer brewing, customer loyalty is at a premium. A new app aims to help beer brewers to win customer loyalty in an interesting way.
If you’re like most new businesses, the one thing that’s on your mind is how you can gain as many new customers as quickly as possible. However, that focus on customer discovery is not the bottom line.
It’s a given that new customer acquisition is vital for new businesses, but obsession with constantly increasing sales can work against some sectors.
Traditionally, there has been a preoccupation with acquiring new customers, often at the expense of nurturing loyal customers.
Businesses must be aware of the rapid evolution of technology, how it’s changing the status quo and changing consumer behaviour.
Knowing this can bring strategic advantages and growth opportunities.
Looking at the drinks industry, for example, the culture of beer drinking has been altered at the hand of the craft beer revolution.
According to the head brewer of Wexford’s Yellow Belly craft brewery, Declan Nixon, drinking is now being treated as “more of a tasting experience than a getting tipsy experience”.
Requests for anything more exotic than Guinness in pubs are no longer baulked at and today, bars and off-licences stock an abundance of interesting choices.
Why do people buy craft rather than ‘domestic’?
For a twenty-something, what is the primary motivator to buy a premium priced microbrew over a macrobrew?
Perhaps it’s identity, buying a one-of-a-kind craft beer to express their one-of-a-kind personality?
Maybe it’s just down to people focusing on taste?
One thing’s for sure, the perceived authenticity of microbrews means brand attraction is more innate, at least for a while.
As Irish business author, Bernadette Jiwa says, “Affinity that’s earned, not attention that is bought and paid for, is what’s powering business growth now.”
The craft beer industry is beginning to level out
Although the sector has been experiencing a furious growth rate, it is starting to level out.
The sales of 15 of the top 30 American craft brands are slowing, even though approximately 20% of all money spent on beer in the US goes to the craft sector every year.
Research claims that the explanation for this slowdown has to do with rapidly increasing competition, and the difficulty for craft brewers to penetrate more mainstream retail channels.
Global beer manufacturers are fighting back by buying up small breweries and selling quasi-craft brands such as Blue Moon, now owned by MillerCoors.
Not only are microbreweries contending with each other but now also have to fend off the big guys too.
In such a volatile environment, craft breweries are struggling to both identify and give special attention to loyal customers.
Big beer brands are having to rethink their marketing
For big multinational beers, marketing to the masses may have worked well when the selection was limited, but due to the massive influx of craft beer to the market, it’s even harder for these one-size-fits-all strategies to make an impact.
Nowadays, developing such blanket strategies for any product will do nothing but incite customer churn, and will prove especially fruitless for a financially limited microbrewery.
By rewarding someone for their support, you can transform a fan into a loyal brand ambassador.
For breweries, one way to do this is through a simple app called Craft Nation.
Both craft beer dabblers and aficionados can download the Craft Nation app on iTunes and Google Play, where they can connect with each distinctive brewery on a personal level.
Users can quickly scan beer labels to learn more about each craft beer, identify favourite beers, add others to their wish list and share their opinions and experiences.
Some of the most enticing features allow users to experience tastings with the aid of Augmented Reality (AR) and participate in personalised loyalty programs created by each brewery.
How does it benefit the brewery?
With the app, craft producers can build and grow a valuable pool of brand ambassadors who share the story, create customer-generated content (CGM) and ultimately, drive brand loyalty.
Also, brewers can gain invaluable feedback about their established beers and seasonal releases and truly get to know their best fans, all in real time.
This loyalty focused business intelligence, and big data is crucial for turning startups into flourishing scalable growth businesses.
The app has just launched, and there are over 10,000 different beers to discover. So far, only a small percentage of those associated breweries offer a loyalty reward program that engages with regular customers.
In every business, loyalty is meaningful, but the trick is finding a way to bottle it.