While you and your friends and loved ones are raising your glasses in toast today, you may find yourself perplexed as to the contents of some of those glasses. You can be assured that a few of those clinking pints will be of some weird beer you’ve probably never even heard of.
In fact, you can be certain of it.
The craft beer industry has taken off in the 21st century, occupying more and more shelf space each year as more people become aware of these “underdog” breweries.
With nearly 2,000 mom and pop style breweries located nationwide, the craft beer craze has become widespread. However, in comparison to brewing giants like Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors, the craft beer industry represents only about 8% of the $100 billion dollar industry.
In fact, of the $1.2 billion in media advertising spent in the industry in 2010, 86% of it was by Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors and Heineken.
Simply put, these small craft breweries don’t have the same revenue stream that some of the bigger breweries have, which results in them having less money to spend on advertising. Yet the industry is still growing. But how?
In short, craft breweries have become just that; crafty. They’ve implemented clever marketing campaigns and utilized the inbound marketing methodology to raise brand awareness and also to develop loyal followings through blogs, a strong social media presence, and other attractive content.
Dogfish Head Brewery, based in Milton, Delaware, is arguably one of the more well-known craft breweries in the United States. Along with their unique and passionate approach to brewing, they also blew up in popularity after being featured on the television series “Brewmasters” in 2010.
Dogfish Head also features a successful blog on its website called “Blogfish.” In it, they discuss the latest in brewing news at the company and also other neat tidbits regarding the brewery.
More importantly, each blog post features sharing buttons for Facebook and Twitter, allowing readers to share interesting content with their networks, which visitors regularly do on the Dogfish Head website. Dogfish Head has accrued 215 thousand likes on its Facebook page, where they regularly share company news and brewing schedules.
While social media sharing may be no big deal for a company like Anheuser-Busch, the free sharing “word-of-mouth” advertising that comes along with social media sharing is of immeasurable value to a smaller craft brewery.
Dogfish Head also features another inbound marketing technique; landing pages.
On their homepage, you can subscribe to a newsletter that features information regarding their blog, brewery news, and other information about their release schedule.
However, once a visitor clicks on the link to subscribe, they are prompted to enter their contact information (e-mail), effectively establishing a direct connection between the company and potential consumers.
Visitors can also register on their website to gain access to user forums, where they can chat with other users and even ask questions to the Dogfish Head staff. Again, establishing connections in order to effectively communicate.
Craft breweries rely heavily on social media to develop a following and also share information with potential consumers. However, just posting industry news and staying connected with fans isn’t enough.
Followers want to feel connected. They want to feel that their social media connection is benefiting them in some way.
The more successful craft breweries are practicing this. They are engaging with their fans through attractive offers and giveaways.
In 2010, New Belgium Brewing Company, located in Fort Collins Colorado and famously known for their craft beer “Fat Tire,” actually featured bicycle giveaways on its Facebook page.
Talk about keeping your followers engaged!
That’s not even the most impressive part. The giveaways were conducted daily! That means by simply “liking” New Belgium on Facebook and staying engaged meant you had a shot to win a cruiser bike on a daily basis. Awesome!
Their followers responded.
To date, New Belgium boasts 217 thousand followers on Facebook, up from 100 thousand in 2010, the year of the cruiser bike giveaways.
Think social media helped a bit? We do too.
Yet another benefactor of the social media platforms is Stone Brewing Company, located in Escondido California.
Stone boasts close to 135 thousand Facebook likes, and more importantly, stays engaged with its followers through attractive content and offers.
Stone regularly posts updates regarding new beers that they are brewing, cool news stories, and also posts occasional videos focused on beers and other products regarding the company.
While craft breweries may only account for 8% of total revenues in the brewing industry, it’s clear that number will continue to rise.
In 2010, a total of 1,133 craft beers appeared on 67% of the top beverage selling chains in the nation, up from 803 beers appearing on 61% the year prior.
Somehow, without the advertising budgets of the bigger breweries, the craft beer industry is growing, continuing to chip away its share of the profit total for beer sales in the United States.
The giant macro-breweries have taken notice, trying to create their own niche in the craft beer market.
MillerCoors sells and markets Blue Moon as a craft beer, while Anheuser-Busch bought out the popular Chicago-based craft brewery Goose Island.
It’s truly an amazing story. Craft brews have come such a long way and have developed a sort of cult following, carving out their own portion of the beer market without the help of Super Bowl ad spots that feature horses, talking reptiles, or other hilarity aimed at going viral (which it often does).
They’ve relied solely on inbound marketing strategies such as blogs and social media to develop a following. Has it worked?
Look around your local watering hole this weekend, chances are you’ll find plenty of people who are proof that it has.
- Craft breweries operate on a much smaller revenue stream than larger macro-breweries.
- Craft breweries have managed to grow in profit and popularity despite a relatively non-existent traditional media advertising presence.
- Breweries like Dogfish Head and New Belgium Brewing Company have developed large followings through social media platforms using attractive content.
If inbound marketing is something you are interested in but are having trouble getting started, contact us today to schedule your free marketing analysis.