For the most part of the 20th century, much consumer behavior and branding research focused on how marketing efforts influenced the purchasing decision of customers. That is, academics and practitioners alike wanted to know the influencing factors (such as advertisements, product placements, distribution channels etc.) on a customer’s pre-purchase and product choices.
Although this trend is still a big part of marketing today, more recently, consumption experience after a purchase choice has come into the spotlight. Again, Apple is an excellent example of a reflection in this trend. If you’ve ever been in an Apple Store (I assume most people have), you have a unique “Apple” experience: Open spaces with hands on products, no traditional counters, blue shirted employees that process your payment through their phones. Regardless of whether an individual purchases a good at the point in time, they are left feeling good about the brand that often lead up to a sale.
In this aspect, small craft brewery companies need to consider adopting a similar strategy. It’s undeniable that most craft breweries do not have ample funds to advertise in traditional media, and even sponsoring local events are limited. How can small name brands effectively compete with the Budweiser's and Anheuser-Busch's of the beer industry? By creating a memorable and delectable customer experience through Craft Brewery tours and tastings. This is one of the most efficient ways to build a cult following, so that locals and even visitors seek out for your brew in local bars and restaurants.
Already, many boutique wineries have adopted this strategy to offer a walk in their vineyards, a short tour of the facilities, and a tasting session. Similarly, many craft breweries have adopted the model and promote such tours at discounted prices through websites as Groupon and Living Social, and actively manage their footprint on apps such as the Brewery Passport. Yet, only a handful of them truly achieve effectiveness, because not enough effort is invested in making the tour a truly exceptional experience. The best first step toward this strategy is actually quite enjoyable- start visiting other winery and craft brewery tours as a customer.
In a world of myriad choices, you will be surprised how often customers simply choose brands that are familiar, memorable, and friendly.