Thinking outside the bottle

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microbrewery image

By Consultant Ned Worledge

Like 51 per cent of Australian males, beer is my usual alcoholic drink of choice.

As a keen home brewer and pseudo-hipster who wishes he rode around town on a 70s Triumph Café Racer, the romantic idea of spending my days refining my own range of ales, pilsners, hefeweizens and lagers is incredibly attractive.

It seems this dream is one shared by a number of Tasmanians as like pimples on a teenager, microbreweries are popping up everywhere.

I’m prepared for this figure to become quickly out of date as the industry grows at a rate of knots, but at last count there are 27 breweries and microbreweries in Tasmania, 16 in southern Tasmania alone.

With an adult population of around 386,250, that’s one brewery per 14,305 Tasmanians.

Let’s assume that 14,305 is split evenly between males and females. According to statistics from the National Alcohol & Drug Knowledgebase, 10 per cent of women and 51 per cent of men say beer is their most regularly consumed alcoholic beverage, when distributed evenly, that leaves a market of regular beer drinkers of 4,362 per Tasmanian brewery. This obviously does not take into consideration tourists or interstate and overseas markets, however locally, it is a very competitive market.

Tasmanian food and drink is undoubtedly some of the best on earth. Our seafood, beef, wine and dairy industries (along with many others) produce world class products which are among the most desired items on any menu.

With our clean, green image, clean air and favourable climate, beer production in Tasmania is a perfect fit.

But with such a competitive local market, the survival of these microbreweries is reliant on more than just producing a delicious, high quality beer.

Each microbrewery needs to find their voice and the character of their business. For example, VB, in my opinion, is a terrible beer but as a product it has a strong voice and character. If you were to personify the VB brand, you’d probably land on a burly occa bloke, likely to be a tradie with calluses on the palms of his hands.

Through strategic marketing, the reason people buy VB is likely to be because;

  1. they either think it is the choice of people with similar characteristics to themselves or;
  2. they believe it will help them take on the characteristic of the person they wish to be.

Essentially, you are selling the experience, the experience of who you could be if you drink this beer.

The transferring of values from the product is particularly prominent in the marketing of fragrances. I recently saw an ad for a men’s Chanel product which featured an incredibly muscular man diving off a cliff into the whitewash of broken waves. At no point during the ad did the actor spray himself with Chanel, yet it says to the consumer ‘this is who you are if you wear Chanel’.

Obviously it’s highly unlikely a Tasmanian microbrewery would have the advertising budget of Carlton United or Chanel, however the same techniques can be applied through social media. I can’t stress enough how important investment in your use of social media is to engage potential customers and build the identity of your brand. While it may be time consuming, social media is a powerful and relatively cost effective way to keeping your brand front of mind and engaging with consumers.


Fox Friday


As an example, if we look at Fox Friday’s Facebook cover photo, there are a number of things within the image which suggest ideas about the brand’s identity.

The black jeans, Chuck Taylor’s and checked shirt suggest a bit of a band or skater personality while the graffitied alley way, leaning against the wall and holding a growler of beer during the day suggests the brand pushes the boundaries, and is even a bit of a rebel. Interestingly, you cannot see the person’s face, which makes it easier for the consumer to put their own face to the ‘brand’.

Whether this positioning is deliberate or not, I can’t say, but it certainly begins to paint a picture of their intended or desired market.

A key to building a brand on social media is consistency. Everything you post must have elements of your brand’s personality, whether that is in the language, imagery or even colour and font selection.

Keeping a brand front of mind is vital, particularly at the point of purchase. A well timed Facebook or Instagram post can not only secure you an immediate sale but potentially a life-long customer and more importantly a public advocate who will refer others.

A well-developed social media strategy will pay dividends in the long run as more and more people come to know and love your brand and products.

These two elements, which apply to the development of any brand, not just microbreweries, will go a long way to ensuring the survival of these start-ups with huge potential.

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