If it’s one thing I enjoy most about the global craft beer community, it’s getting out on the open road and checking out our breweries across the country and overseas. I’ve had the opportunity to take in craft breweries in places like India, USA, England, Japan and all over Australia and the one thing that never lets them down is their emphasis on supporting their local communities and the fact that they all seem to love what they do too as they seem to come across as positive people always up for a chat.
Tasting the diverse selection of beers, meeting the staff, learning about their local community and then grabbing some merchandise to take home and promote these breweries is what I and I bet you love to do too. There’s something special and valuable about supporting local businesses and being loyal to your local community and by buying some beers or in this case beer gear it goes a long way to promoting and spreading the good gospel of that brewery, having some nice gear to wear or use as well as supporting that particular local community.
This article was one I’ve been thinking about doing for a while. Whenever I travel to breweries I always love checking out the merch or gift shop to see the tee designs, the interesting accessories and the take home beer selections. I mean who doesn’t like a good gift shop anywhere right!
However I’m often let down by poor designs, run of the mill logos on black tee’s, same old same old accessories and of course…..stock standard logos on stubby coolers. Unfortunately it’s quite often boring, poorly designed without a graphic designer, doesn’t fit with their audience, unoriginal, doesn’t work with the logo or colours and just looks like it could be a heck of a lot better. It’s important to note that merch is always a secondary thing as these are local businesses with staff doing a thousand jobs all subject to budgets and resources and of course demand from consumers. However for breweries it is also important to keep in mind that there’s craft beer geeks out there who want to buy your beer merch, want to buy quality designs and want to buy creative and unique items to be able to promote you. Harness the power of these craft beer fans and put the effort and quality into your craft beer merchandise. Beer geeks and brewery visitors will love it and it will result in sales.
Here are some simple tips for craft beer merchandising:
- Use a qualified graphic designer.
- Understand your audience and craft brewery demographics and target those audiences.
- Use a graphic designer working or who has experience working with craft beer/breweries/beer world
- Think about artist collaborations especially with local artists in your community.
- Seasonal merch ranges are important. Think winter/summer.
- Get creative with merch. Think funky, unique, creative design and merch ideas.
- Always have a gift voucher option available. Did you know Blockbuster RIP invented the gift card too? Read more about the benefits and history of gift vouchers here and here.
- Think about your female fans and ensure you get items like tee’s in female sizes.
- Don’t discount kids/baby merch. Parents will grab these as will others to use as gifts.
- Think local. Who can you get involved in your local community to work with.
- Think about what beer fans/consumers actually need or want as merchandise.
- Have an online ecommerce merch shop. You’re missing out on 24/7 sales otherwise. Top shelf website design and UX is an absolute must as well.
- Have the merch visible and well presented in a stand in your brewery.
- Have stickers available to either give out or to sell to people.
Take the topic of stickers for instance. Every brewery I go to I always ask to grab a sticker to slap on my LandCruiser and promote the breweries wherever I go. Now when breweries don’t have one available for free or to even sell me as part of their merch range, I think to myself you’ve just missed a huge opportunity for someone to promote you for free.
Case in point, a few months back I was in the Gold Coast region and went into one new brewery to try their brews. At the end of the pour in a taproom with no one else in it I politely asked if I could have a sticker and was rudely and aggressively denied one because they weren’t for sale (also the oddest customer service brewery experience in 2019 so far!). That’s totally fine but that brewery is missing out on an opportunity to allow people to easily promote them….FOR FREE! A roll of quality stickers are inexpensive and can be used as merch, as giveaways at festivals and for all manner of other purposes to promote your brewery.
In a country of 550 competing breweries where having a point of difference and standing out has become even more vital (especially in crowded markets) there has never been a more important time to understand your audiences, highlight and up-sell your USP’s to customers and simply give your beer fans what they’re after. Having a sticker is something so simple to create that will go a long way in terms of promotion and marketing, positive engagement with beer geeks as well as being an easy revenue opportunity. Don’t overthink it, just do it.
So while recently scanning about 200 odd of the 500+ craft breweries in Australia I decided to do an analysis of their merch stores and was surprised by a heap of genius merch ideas and quality designs.
Here’s my selection (in no particular order) for what are some of the smartest, most creative, useful and interesting merchandise ideas from Australia’s craft breweries (well about half of them anyway!).
4. BeerFarm Mug
13. Land & Sea Brewery ‘The Canimal’….ok so it’s a tinnie but their designs are damn fine and I had to include a beer on this list as we all take one of them home from our brewery visits!
14. Moon Dog Summer Survival Pack that includes Old Mate Pale Ale, Love Tap Lager, Beer Can, sunnies, stubby holder and some sweet sweatbands!
15. Stone and Wood Ingredients Tee. The old faithful. I’ve had about 3 of these over the last 10 years or so.
16. 3 Ravens ‘Juicy Tee’. Just hot!
17. Boat Rocker RamJet gift set. Smart idea at a good price!
So there you have a very one sided, beer geek biased, personally chosen list of what I think are some clever merch ideas from our great Aussie craft breweries. It might not be to everyone’s liking but there’s lots of ideas to like here and plenty to get colleagues thinking about what might work for their audiences and beer fans at their brewery. However, as always with my work if you have seen something that should be added to the list or something that’s worth talking about then please touch base and I’ll take a squizz and give it a shout out.
Thanks for reading.
Blair Hughes is an award winning, globally respected fan engagement specialist who helps clients in the
sports, music and craft beer industries grow their fan bases, improve fan experiences and create new
business and revenue opportunities. You can follow him on Twitter at @MrBlairHughes or here at
www.MrBlairHughes.com (I’m also brand ambassador at Two Bays Brewing Co running events and sales- come say hi at an event or the taproom sometime!)