Beer Distributors: The Forgotten Craft Beer Marketing Partner

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In our experience with the beer category, what we see is this: The beer distributor is the forgotten craft beer marketing partner.

We frequently see the merchandise e-commerce portal serving their three distinct users: retail customers, staff and team members, and beer distributors.

The classic retail customer user is the most common profile. They’re your biggest fans. They like your beer. They like the experience you’ve created. And they vouch for it enough to wear your logo on their sleeve. Cherish them; Malcolm Gladwell might call these your “mavens”.

A brewery’s goal for this type of customer is to correctly price these items and create an opportunity for branding at no cost to the craft brewer. This is an easy financial calculation that considers the product costs, design, and order fulfillment expenses in relation to markup to cover all costs. Bingo! You just sold a t-shirt that didn’t cost you anything, aka: free branding.

The brewery staff – sales and marketing teams are the “internal user”. They are on the streets everyday to grow the business and spread the joy of craft beer. Make sure they have merchandise and promotional products needed to share with their prospects; it provides sales teams an opportunity to interact with clients beyond just their sales pitch.

The beer distributor is the third, and most overlooked marketing agent for craft breweries. It is the largest channel by volume and has the ability to provide the most brand impressions. Beer distributors buy branded merch in bulk, ship to multiple locations, to serve events, prospects, and current customers.

If a craft brewer can provision e-commerce stores specific to the beer distributor channel, they can empower a strong marketing partner. Beer distributors can then easily access branded merch, in bulk, and use it as a tool to promote beer sales to their accounts. For instance, we work with over 70 beer distributors across the mid-atlantic, that serve a handful of brewers.

We’ve often said, make great beer and the rest will follow. We think that’s still mostly true. And this truth includes using all your resources to their fullest potential, be it an e-commerce platform or a big truck stocked with kegs!


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