May 28, 2018

Competing in a Mature Industry – Craft Breweries & Micro-Distilleries

Craft breweries and micro-distilleries have popped up all over the Greater Edmonton Area in the past few years. Based on recent trends, including larger disposable incomes and a shift in preferences, the “craft” alcohol market is forecast to see consistent growth in 2018-2019.

To match increased demand for micro-brewed deliciousness, new players continue to enter the market hoping to find their niche. Whether or not new competition is a locally owned startup or a new line from a major brand like Molson, strategic marketing is essential to succeed.

“Successful branding through label design and heavy marketing is critical to success in a brand-centric market.” – Breweries in Canada 2018 Report

Given the restrictions around liquor promotion and advertising, there’s no question why branding is integral to the success of beer and alcohol companies. Story telling, evoking emotion through colour, shape or sound, promoting a lifestyle, tagline, or specific message – all of these tactics are fair game for alcohol brands, and at a basic level, define a brand.

The importance of aggressive marketing and brand development is also evident when you consider the numbers. The Canadian standard for percentage of revenue spent on marketing across all industries is approximately 1.3%. The Canadian Brewery Industry spends 4 times that amount – 5.2% of total revenue on marketing.

Invest in Your Customers Now, Save $ Later

To compete in a cutthroat industry without totally breaking the bank, consider taking your customers out on a date, share your hopes and dreams. Spend quality time understanding who craft beer drinkers are:

  • Why do they drink craft or micro-brewed products instead of easily accessible, cheap mass produced beer?
  • How do they find out about the newest IPA that’s made with their favourite hops? (Citra is probably my fav, in case you were wondering)
  • Are they young professionals who are always online or are they a bit older and still watch non recorded TV and suffer through the commercials?

Recent studies on this particular demographic – craft beer drinkers specifically – provide interesting, however unsurprising high level insights (infographic sourced from

Taking the time to get to know your customers typically saves major marketing dollars in the long term. It prevents the whole “well, I hope this works” method of marketing. Get it right the first time (hopefully), and you save by not executing campaigns that don’t align with your customers.

But I Need More Customers Now

Moving directly to awareness or customer acquisition campaigns via paid advertising (PPC), SEO, or social media can definitely yield results, but why not take out the guesswork? A digitally savvy brand strategy combined with persona insights, informs next steps related to channels, messaging, and targeting and removes most of the uncertainty. In a mature industry full of competition and restrictions, the initial investment to establish a brand and understand your customers may be the make it or break it difference when trying connect with the market thirsty for your products.

Want to chat with us more about marketing for the craft beer and micro-distillery industries? I would love to make this a two way conversation. Top Draw is hosting an event on June 7th. RSVP come check out our amazing patio!

If you’re shy and prefer not to socialize, that’s cool too. Contact us – let’s set something up.  

Know What’s Next
from Top Draw