A couple of weeks ago, my fiancé and I were on a quest. Our mission? To find the latest Game of Thrones-inspired beer, released by Ommegang Brewery twice a year. And we weren’t only looking for one bottle. We wanted three different bottles that represented each of the three dragons from the show. Two stores, 30 dollars, and forty minutes later, we found success—and it was all worth it.
When it comes to his microbrews, he’s totally devoted, and he’s not the only one; craft beer is booming in a time when the overall beer industry is sinking.
For marketers, it’s informative to understand why that is. While there’s certainly the quality factor to consider, microbreweries recognize that the profile of the desired beer consumer has changed— and they’re obsessed with catering to their needs.
Brand names mean nothing to the Sacred Audience (21 to 35 year olds) when purchasing beer. Instead, they’re looking for quality; finding it requires research, and the microbreweries are delivering a tremendous depth of useful information.
Ommegang brewery, for example, not only has a thriving social media presence, but an informative website as well. From detailed profiles of each of its beers (e.g. tasting notes, specific ingredients, etc.) recipes inspired by its beers, and tips on how each drink should be poured, Ommegang provides consumers with everything they could possibly know about a beer, whether they were aware they needed that information or not.
Mainstream beer brands, which invest a large portion of their budgets in advertising campaigns (i.e. Budweiser’s Clydesdales), are falling behind. Budweiser’s website, for example, provides a completely different user experience. Sure the site is a media beast, filled with commercials, images, promotions for its Made in America concert series, and more. However, there are no taste profiles, or detailed information about each of its products or real information its targeted consumers now seek. In other words, they are not providing the information that beer fans are searching for.
According to Mintel, 73 percent of craft beer drinkers say they know what type of beer they’re going to buy before going to the store. So you know they’re doing the research. By becoming an information source and educating consumers on how each of those factors (hops, yeast, etc.) changes the flavors and consistency of a beer, breweries have a greater chance at winning them over.
Microbreweries also tap in on their consumers’ love to try something new and make it exciting. As a result, we’ve seen the rise of seasonal beers (pumpkin spice, winter pale ales, etc.), as well as exclusive brews such as Ommegang’s Game of Thrones and Stone’s Vertical Epic series. Not many people get excited when a new Budweiser beer is on draft. But if it were Dogfish Head 120 minute IPA, now that’s something even a grown man can get giddy about (and I know cause I’ve seen it). Being a craft beer consumer is exciting and immediately rewarding, and word of mouth is spreading as a direct result.
In doing all of these things, microbreweries have transformed beer from a simple beverage into a hobby; a lifestyle. It’s something that can be collected, enjoyed, or serve as inspiration for consumers to brew beers of their own.
But they’ll always come back for more. Heck, they’ll even drive all over to find it.