Brewbound Live / 2018
United attended Brewbound Live in Santa Monica recently.
It was incredibly interesting to meet and spend time with some of the Beer Industries most forward thinking, maverick business leaders, industry veterans and entrepreneurs, each discussing their unique perspectives on the rapidly evolving Craft category.
The Craft Beer Summit itself was a huge success. The sheer amount of Information & Insight exchanged over a two day event was staggering. From Industry workshops to discussions about data, trends, commercial challenges and 'what's next?' for the beer industry, breweries both big and small each had something positive and powerful to contribute to the conversation.
United took away four key learnings…
Discussions about 'moderation' were commonplace at Brewbound Live. With 85% of people in the U.S (who purchase alcohol) now moderating the amount they drink, treating alcohol as a much less important part of their overall 'social experience’. This shift in attitude is being felt across the Beer Industry - forcing many breweries to rethink their long-term commercial strategies.
In an era of 24/7 'always-on' social media exposure, consumers are increasingly sensitive to the negative impact excessive alcohol consumption can have on their 'personal brands' in front of friends, family and potential employers. So, for many, their relationship with booze is changing.
Local & Hyper Local
Another hot topic was the evolution of Craft 2.0 and emergence of Craft 3.0 - the Local and 'Hyper-Local' marketplaces that have established themselves thanks to the drive, innovation, hard work and dedication of the 6,300+ Independent Craft Breweries now actively trading across the U.S.
This focus upon a truly local product offer catering to a very specific audience, only using the best, locally/regionally sourced ingredients is what puts the 'Craft' in Craft Beer. The local and hyper-local breweries can cultivate incredibly close relationships with their consumers in a way the National brands can only ever dream of. Responding to market demands and changing consumer tastes quickly and intuitively.
Hard & Functional
With consumers looking for something different and with attitudes changing towards alcohol, breweries both big and small are developing their own unique take on low-alcohol, non alcoholic and non-beer beverage alternatives.
Hard Soda's, Hard Kombucha's and 'Functional' beverages are being launched to market, all vying for the consumers attentions, not forgetting of course the lively debate currently swirling around the introduction of cannabinoid infused beverages into the market. The movement 'beyond beer' is shaping how Craft (and the wider International and Speciality Beer markets) will find success in the future.
Innovate & Market
'People want beers of today/of their generation, not your Grandfathers beer'. Your Grandfather in a new sweater is still, well, ....your Grandfather!’. David Walker, Co-Founder Firestone Walker Brewing Company
Another strong sentiment that was echoed throughout the two days of Brewbound Live was the importance of maintaining the three pillars of Innovation, Marketing and Brand Storytelling. Innovation is second nature in a beer category driven by curiosity and experimentation, but its impact on commercial success cannot be ignored. 'Cracking the code’ on need states and responding to those needs with innovative products is the key to genuine success. Equally, communicating your point of difference effectively in what is already an overcrowded Craft Beer market is now an inescapable, vital component of your beer brands future growth strategy. The more you listen, the better you know your audience, the better you know them, the easier it will be to speak to them directly, though your branding, packaging and storytelling.
Ultimately, in order to get ahead and become a successful Craft Brewery you need to understand exactly what success looks like for you. Are you a Health & Wellness focused Functional Beer startup looking to carve out your own niche, a mid-sized 'Local Hero' looking to grow out of State, or perhaps a long-established Craft Brewery looking to reinvigorate the conversation between you and your most passionate advocates?
Either way, take a moment to ask yourselves tough questions… ‘who am I, what do I stand for, who does that matter to and why should they even care?’ Only by answering these questions honestly and dispassionately will you get to the ’truth’ of what you and your brand and business stands for, giving you the building blocks of an entirely unique, ownable and powerful brand voice.