Creating a Loyal Following for Your Microbrewery

If you’ve walked down the wine and beer aisles of any large supermarket or a liquor store, it won’t take you long to be overwhelmed by the sheer diversity of brands presented.  Often, many consumers end up choosing familiar brands or the featured (or discounted) bottles available to them.  With that, decades of studies on consumer behavior in supermarkets focused on how promotions and pricing influenced brand choice at the point of purchase. Yet, growing evidence shows that not all customers act alike. 

Analyses in brand choice confirmed that customers can be readily divided into “planned” and “opportunistic” groups.  According to this two-state model, planned customers already have a fairly clear determination on what to buy, triggered by previous consumption's or other brand loyal influences.  On the other hand, opportunistic customers are those who have an inclination to purchase beer (or not even that), but undecided on which specific one.

To skip to the conclusion, comprehensive results showed that unplanned customers will be heavily influenced by external factors (pricing and promotions of the retailer), while planned customers will be resistant to such influences and choose the brand they’ve pre-determined.  How can microbrewers obtain more of such loyal “planned” customers?

For most, if not all, small business owners of microbreweries simply don’t have the financial power to influence point of purchase promotions in large supermarkets.  Instead of trying to compete on promotions and discounted pricing against deeper pockets, a preferable strategy is to get the customers to specifically seek out for your brew.  One key tactic to achieve this is to present your brand as an exclusive treat.  Instead of distributing the product as far and wide as you can, selectively and tightly controlling sales channels can deliver much more lucrative results in the long run.  Furthermore, by specifically targeting customer segments by tailored messages for each type of brew (The XX Pale Ale, the comfort beer for young professionals), those identified can readily “plan” to consumer your beer.  You’d be surprised how often people like to identify themselves and become loyal with the goods that they consume.