The Next Phase of Craft Beer?

The Next Phase of Craft Beer?

The Next Phase of Craft Beer?

Craft beer is bigger than ever. Even though it’s only a small percentage of the total beer marketing, it’s been growing leaps and bounds for years. While there’s talks of a craft beer bubble, more breweries are opening than closing, so the industry is only going to grow in the near future. Below are the prominent trends that will help fuel that growth in the next year or so.

Low Carb Beer Low Cal, Low Carb Beers

This trend’s been written up a bunch, and touted by craft beer godfathers Jim Koch and Sam Calagione.

Low cal, low carb beers will definitely appeal to the #EarnYourBeer crowd, who seem to be growing leaps and bounds. But, it feels like their appeal might be limited.

Like session IPAs did for a time, they may find an audience, but are likely to fall off the radar just as fast as their lower ABV predecessors. It’s hard to see the fans driving the haze and pastry trends trading them in, and even more craft beer fans are jumping onto the hype bus of those styles.

It also seems like this trend is appropriate only for the bigger craft brewers. It makes sense that the leaders of Dogfish Head and Boston Beer are talking about it – they’ve achieved mass distribution and follow the year-round, seasonal and occasional beer model. They need velocity at-shelf and on tap (which is a whole other article), and a flavorful beer that you can drink a few of without getting schnockered achieves that.

To this end, they’re also kinda stealing a page from big beer. This feels like a rehash of the Michelob Ultra movement, albeit plus flavor. That brews still around, and “lite” beer calorie claims are now common, so there might be some staying power outside of the big beer machine.

It’s to be determined if craft brewers outside the Top 50 will jump on board, and if consumers will embrace it enough to keep it around.

Double Dry Hopped DDH Everything

The flip side of low cal, low carb beers, the haze craze is real, and double-dry hopping (DDH) isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

From milkshake IPAs to other hazy offshoots, brewers continue to experiment with IPAs that utilize the DDH process. The time seems ripe to start seeing other styles and new offerings getting the biotransformation hop treatment.

Red IPAs, black IPAs, IPLs and more are proof of brewers applying an IPA’s most popular feature across different styles. Haze and its fruit-forward hop schedule have taken IPAs to the new level, so seeing it infiltrate blonde ales, cream ales, Belgian styles even pilsners and even browns, ambers or alt-biers.

A few have already popped up. It looks like a lot more will be coming in the next year.

CBD BeerCBD Beer

All kinds of products hsve Cannabidiol in them these days. Soap, trail mix, dog treats, ice cream, teas and more are all available infused with CBD. Beer’s next.

Attempts are already being made. Long Trail was the first to brew one. Several brewers in Oregon have used CBD in brews, as well as Black Hammer Brewing in San Fran. Sweetwater makes beers that smell like a Phish concert, but don’t have CBD.

The biggest barrier, which the CBD industry is facing on the whole, is the lack of regulation. Both Long Trail and Black Hammer had to pull their CBD beers after the federal government intervened, and Oregon banned CBD beers on the state-level (though alcohol-free CBD Seltzers from breweries are good to go.)

The federal hang-up seems to be that CBD is a “non-standard” beer ingredient. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau requires special approval for any non-standard beer ingredients, which, surprisingly, include things like coriander and rose water. Oregon banned CBD beers at the state level, citing the unknowns of “CBD getting into alcohol.”

Once these legal issues are worked out, either with the federal process approval for beer (which can take up to 3 years) or greater CBD regulations/guidelines, the only thing left for brewers to figure out is when to add the CBD to get a decent dose in the final beer (assuming this would be post-boil or post-fermentation to not lose any of the cannabidiol.)

After some trial and error, expect to see CBD beers flood onto shelves and taps.

Local Hard Seltzers “Local” Hard Seltzers

A craft beer trends article can’t be written without mentioning the explosion of Hard Seltzers. With the category eclipsing the $1B mark, (which is technically separate from beer), brewers are jumping into seltzer in a big way.

Some are branded (like Bud Light and Corona), some are “crafty” (like Bon & Viv and Vizzy) and some are created right next to craft beers (like Two Roads, Notch Brewing, Oskar Blues and the CBD ones mentioned above.)

Many smaller craft brewers are starting to fill their fermenters with them too, and with good reason.

Their simple to make, fast to ferment, and appeal to a broader audience than craft beer can reach. Using them as almost a “gateway” beverage into craft beer is just smart business.

So how can these smaller breweries keep it crafty and separate themselves from the Big Beer seltzers? Local, seasonal ingredients is one way.

Taking a page from seasonal sours, brewers can use fruits and other items from their area to create a homegrown seltzer unique to them and their place of residence.

It’s low-hanging fruit (pun intended) and a great way to stand out in a way Big Beer would struggle to replicate. Look for more of these to show up at craft breweries this year.

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Not All Craft Beer Fans Are Created Equal

Not All Craft Beer Fans Are Created Equal

Not All Craft Beer Fans Are Created Equal

With over 8000 breweries nationwide, there’s never been more craft beer fans. But, while they’re united by their love of beer, we can’t lump all these fans together.

There’s levels of beer fandom, and even then, each of those levels has sub-levels within it. All of them have unique tastes and lifestyles that beer plays a role in.

As marketers, a one-size-fits-all solution might work and work well. But being aware of the differences between groups of fans and using them to inform strategy and tactics can lead to even more success.

Below we dive into and define each segment, with some beginning notes on how to reach them effectively.

Hardcore Craft Beer GeekHardcore Craft Beer Geek

These are your hardcore fanatics. The hazebois. The pastrybois. The crispy boi lovers. (Don’t know these terms – this ain’t your group.) They live and breathe beer, and probably have it tattooed on their body somewhere.

They’re no stranger to line-life, were on Untappd before it was cool, and started Instagram accounts dedicated solely to their craft beer adventures.

They’re a noisy bunch who are usually in first on trends, sometimes even dictating them. They’re fueled by the latest releases from the hype breweries and trade porch bombs on the reg. Their beer fridges are a thing to behold.

Most importantly, they’ve got money to spend, and craft beer is right at the top of their list. They’re finicky about what they choose, and their loyalty is hard-earned, but when they like you, they’ll champion with both their wallets and their recommendations to others.

How To Reach Them:

Be where they are, speak their language and put out beers that will get their attention.

Craft EnthusiastCraft Enthusiasts

This group also LOVES beer, but don’t take it to the all-encompassing level as the Hardcore group. Their life isn’t all about it, but it’s definitely at or near the top of their interests.

They love exploring the craft beer scene. Their weekends frequently included brewery trips, and nothing beats finding and trying new beers. They follow trends and the latest offerings, but they’re also loyal to who they like.

When traveling, they seek out local breweries to visit and bring beers back with them. They post about their craft beer adventures on social media. They’re on Untappd and have a healthy check-in list.

They frequent beer festivals, happy hours and have their favorite craft beer bars. While they don’t necessarily line up for new beer releases, they have their favorite beer shops, and regularly (1-2 times a week) stop in to see what’s new and pick up something so they always have great brews to sip on at home.

How To Reach Them:

Take them behind the scenes, share the stories behind the beer and keep them in the know with what’s going on and what’s coming up.

Craft FansCraft Fans

This group definitely enjoys a good beer, but it might be the third or 4th thing listed on their Insta profile. They know they like beer, and they know the styles of beer they like, but they’re just as happy enjoying their favorites as they are trying something new.

They go out to the bar, but it’s infrequent, and usually driven by getting together with friends. However, their first suggestion about where they should go is their favorite beer bars, and they explore the tap list when they’re there for something new they might like. If they don’t find it, they’ll fall back to their favorites.

This group occasionally posts about beer on their social media accounts, but typically it’s group shots with their friends at the bar. They may have Untappd or another beer app, but don’t check in frequently.

They stop by the beer shop or distributor to pick something up once or twice a month. Beer’s not a staple in their house, but they like having it around, and don’t mind spending a little extra for something good.

How To Reach Them:

Peek their curiosity with what’s going on and entice them with new offerings and things to do to draw them in.

Craft CuriousCraft Curious

This group knows they like beer, and wants to try new and different beers, but they don’t know where to start.

The breadth and depth of craft beers intimidates them a bit. They want to experiment and explore, but they need guidance. More often than not, they stick with their staples – a favorite style or specific beer they know they like.

They don’t really post about beer on their social media. They might have Untappd or RateBeer, but use it for research purposes rather than broadcasting what they’re drinking. They frequently pick the brains of the Craft Enthusiasts and the Hardcore Geeks to find something they might like.

Occasionally, they buy beer at the store, and it’s usually a beer they know they’ll like. In some cases, they might not necessarily be able to afford the newest craft beer, but know they’d like to try it.

When they go to beer bars, they stick with what they like unless they’re with someone who knows craft beer, and will listen to their recommendations.

How To Reach Them:

Education, Education, Education. Done in way they can relate to.

Craft Refuser

Craft Refusers

Nope. This group doesn’t get the hype about craft beer. To them, a beer’s a beer – and it doesn’t go passed that.

They’ve been drinking the same beer or group of beers for a while and only stray from the stable when those beers aren’t available.

Social media posts? No. Craft beer bars? Nope. Untappd? What’s that? They’re on auto-pilot when beer shopping, and don’t even look at the tap list at restaurants.

While they’re not craft beer fans, they’re good to be aware of, because they’re certainly aware of you.

How To Reach Them:

Don’t. Just don’t piss them off.

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The Food Chain

The Food Chain

The Food Chain

When most people hear the term ‘food chain,’ they think about big fish eating smaller fish and so on. Not us. We think about how a can of beans might become a viral sensation. Or how to get a new product idea from the focus group to the shelf and ultimately, into a basket. Or a delivery order. Stuff like that. Because that’s the food chain to us.

Even with everything that’s changed in marketing since we opened our doors 35 years ago, a lot of agencies still focus on the campaign. The promotion. The social media. The words. The pictures. It’s always been a pretty myopic way to look at marketing. But now, it’s borderline irresponsible.

There have never been more moving parts. People. Levels. Disciplines. There have never been so many things involved that need to work together to achieve success. And while it seems daunting and complicated, it is. It just doesn’t have to be.

At Donovan, we have always been involved in the behind-the-scenes inner workings of marketing. We know most brand managers spend about 5-10% of their time on creative, the ‘fun stuff’ as they say. The rest, the meat and potatoes of getting their job done is spent on ensuring product quality. Delivery. Shelf space. Out of stocks. Slotting dollars (or whatever euphemism you want to use). And the list goes on. Ever wonder why someone marketing cheese in the midwest may be concerned about a drought in New Zealand? We don’t. Because we know.

Thing is these days, the food chain extends beyond getting it into a consumer’s basket and onto his table. Food has become validation. That I can cook. That I’m worldly. A taste tourist. I feed my kids. They love it. And look, I can prove it because it’s on Instagram!

So if your can of beans can’t help make a meal that makes it to Instagram, don’t look at the beans. Look at your agency. And ask them what they know about the food chain.

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The Future of Frequent Shoppers

The Future of Frequent Shoppers

The Future of Frequent Shoppers

Loyalty programs are one of the oldest ways to influence customers into sticking with business. These programs date back to when a little card would be hole-punched by a clerk, like at old school ice cream shops: “buy 10 cones, get 1 free!”

However, loyalty programs changed as technology has changed. So how do they benefit a company in today’s market?

First and foremost, they help sales by rewarding purchase. But beyond just that, they establish a connection between the company and its customers. Loyalty programs increase both overall revenue, by roughly 5-10%, and the frequency of purchases of program members according to Annex Cloud customer loyalty statistics.

Loyalty programs also collect valuable customer data when consumers sign up. This lets a retailer or brand understand who their loyal base is and how to reach them effectively. Companies can tailor their marketing efforts to this captive, loyal audience.

New technology has influenced what loyalty programs look like and how they interact with consumers. Chipotle recently started a program using a money-transferring app called Venmo to bolster its program. In this contest, select winners are sent between $1-$500 in exchange for providing their phone number and signing up for their loyalty program. This bold tactic has garnered a lot of attention – to be determined if it’s ultimately successful.

The bottom line is that loyalty programs continue to work. Customers feel appreciated when they get rewarded for consistently making purchases – building loyalty and purchase frequency. While it seems like almost every brand and store has one, and they all look fairly similar, the positives far outweigh the negatives. As long as they continue to adapt and offer relevant incentives, loyalty programs will be a winning strategy for the foreseeable future.

If you’re looking to create new and exciting ways to connect with your audience, call us we’d be glad to show you how.

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Probiotic Power

Probiotic Power

Probiotic Power

Foods fortified with these positive digestive aids are trending

From packing in protein to pumpkin spice everything, brands have extended and diversified product lines through trendy flavors and supplements. Built to catch consumers’ attention, they show the brand is relevant and responding to their wants and needs – creating a connection with them.

This year, as healthier foods rise, it looks like there’s a new ingredient that will start popping up in products across shelves – probiotics.

Probiotics gained popularity for their digestive aid benefits, obtained primarily through yogurts and other chilled, cultured milk products. Today, thanks to new heat-tolerant formulations that allow the healthy bacteria and yeasts to survive processing and become shelf-stable, they’re finding their way into items like trail mixes, oatmeal, pancakes and a variety of other now-functional foods.

As consumers are becoming health conscious, they’re looking for get more nutrition out of every bite – a prime opportunity for probiotic fortification. According to a recent survey, 83% of the surveyed people are familiar with probiotics and 53% believe it will impact their health in a positive way. In another survey by Packaged Facts, 23% of consumers said they specially look for food and beverage items high in probiotics.

And to the surprise of no one, Millennials are leading the probiotic charge. Global Market Insights say probiotic items are expected to exceed $64 billion by the year 2023, primarily on the strength of their interest.

It’s clear consumers want easy ways to add the benefits of probiotics to their everyday lives. Now’s the time to get ahead of the curve, and get new product pipelines filled with innovative ways to capitalize on this anticipated growth.

If you’re looking to create new and exciting ways to connect with your audience, call us we’d be glad to show you how.

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Craving Clean Labels

Craving Clean Labels

Craving Clean Labels

The audience for clean labels is wider than first thought.

Clean Label eating is the trend that just won’t quit. Born more than a decade ago, it continues to influence consumers looking to eat a healthier diet. 53% of adults in a recent survey said they are buying natural and organic foods more often.

Millennials and Gen Xers started the Clean Label movement, seeking to live healthier lifestyles earlier than their Baby Boomer parents. But now the trend has reached the next level as health issues become a higher priority for the aging Boomers. In a surveyed group of 1000 aged 50 or older, about 80% said heart health was a main reason for their eating decision making.

This adoption of Clean Label eating has shifted it from a trend to the new normal.

More and more people want to live healthier and brands are adjusting their products and their marketing efforts. Clean label eaters tend to be informed, curious, educated and extremely active in their health management.

So to reach this growing group, brands need to make it their natural, organic or health benefits clear. The actual definition of clean label is still murky, but many brands are able to claim the “clean label” statement.

It’s not as easy as placing a label on the product saying it is clean – brands need to be as transparent as possible; this could mean the traceability of the ingredients to sustainability of the actual product.

Once a brand connects with this audience they are able to create an emotional connection with their messaging because both are striving for a cleaner living. This not only shows the brand is conscience of what is happening around them but shows they actually care about what their audience wants.

Cleaner living is becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s culture. Once a brand proves how its Clean Label products fit into consumers’ lives, they’ll create brand champions through a shared mission of cleaner living. This not only shows the brand’s market awareness – it demonstrates that they actually care about what their audience wants, forging a lasting emotional connection.

If you’re looking to create new and exciting ways to connect with your audience, call us we’d be glad to show you how.

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