Passion Communications

Brewing the marketing mix: Marketing tactics for beer companies in a volatile market

Photo by Rohan Jahagirdar from Pexels

What’s in the bottle might be the same but what’s outside the bottle is different for everyone.

Been to a pub or bar lately? Or have you just been enjoying the occasional pint at home? No matter where you get your drink on, the marketplace is full of fancy bottles, exotic flavours and eye catchy labels. So what distinguishes one brand from the other? What makes a person choose one beer over the other? It could be the taste, the brand, the price or an emotional attachment or a mix of everything. The big question for marketers is “How do you stand out in a fiercely competitive space that is saturated by global giants?” 

In this article we take a look at how alcohol consumption has changed in recent months and how brands can capitalize on the changing market with insights from industry expert Chris Maffeo.

How has alcohol consumption changed in the past year?

Before we go further lets understand what is the difference between on-trade and off-trade sales in the alcohol industry. The off-trade market includes all retail outlets like hypermarkets, supermarkets, convenience stores, mini markets, kiosks, wines & spirits shops etc. The on-trade market consists of outlets like bars, restaurants, coffee shops, clubs, hotels etc. 

A survey done by the IAS shows that alcohol consumption in the UK has increased since lockdowns were in place. While the on-trade industry faces many challenges this year with the world moving more and more towards off-trade alcohol consumption and making their own cocktails at home. In the UK a large part of beer sales happened in the off-trade sector even prior to the pandemic. The off trade sales increase was further supplemented by the fact that consumers were forced to watch sporting events from the comfort of their homes as opposed to public places due to the ongoing pandemic. 

Source: Statista.com

Last year saw a huge decline in alcohol sales, especially on-trade sales. With on-trade beer sales making up nearly as much as 70% of total sales prior to the pandemic in some European countries, this represents a huge loss in revenue from on-trade sales. However, there may be a silver lining.  This shift in channels also presents a huge opportunity in the off-trade sector.  So how can beer companies adapt to this ever-changing environment?

What do consumers want when buying beer?

As can be seen from the picture above, taste is the top three most important factors for consumers to choose a beer are Taste, Price and Style of beer. While all major manufacturers have mastered brewing beer with impeccable taste and pricing it to maximize sales, it is the styling of the product and brand that could make a huge difference for a consumer. 

So how does a beer company style and present itself in a way that distinguishes it from the competition? Let’s have a look at one of our most famous clients, a brand close to our home and hearts Staropramen. Staropramen’s Czech origin, long brewing tradition and storied heritage make it attractive for consumers all over the world as can be seen here Staropramen’s Historical Stories to the World. The current Staropramen campaign focuses on the history and tradition of the brewery, celebrating “150 years of moments”. 

We also had the opportunity to work with Staropramen in creating a unique campaign for the Czech market. By using the positive feelings that the city of Prague arouses in consumers’ minds, our solution was to establish Staropramen as the beer that embodies the “Spirit of Prague.” Our “Legends of Prague” TV campaign showcased some of the many magical stories of the city, and gave them an interesting and uplifting modern twist. 

Watch the TV spot below!

"In the last years, there has been a proliferation of craft brands. They all fight for the same shelf space. In my experience, the only ones who make it are those who have cracked how to translate their brand positioning into a commercial proposition that distributors and customers buy into. Those who haven't done that collect dust, if they make it to the shelf."

How can beer companies market their products better?

  1. Offering interesting off-trade experiences to customers 

As most sales these days are happening off-trade, customers need to see your brand above the others in order to make a purchase. There are a number of ways this can be achieved. For example: free tastings, innovative and creative displays, bundling your beer with foods that would go along well and of course limited time discounts are all easy ways to make sure the next purchased can of beer is from your brand. 

  1. Make yourself a part of heritage, tradition and culture

Just as we did with the Staropramen campaign, immerse your brand in the culture and the traditions of the land it is from. Austria has Stiegl, Denmark has Carlsberg, Greece has Mythos. Having a drink that is representative of the local culture instantly distinguishes it from the competitors and gives customers a sense of belonging and community in every sip. Brands with global distribution could extend their product lines to fit in better with the locals as is being done by Heineken. Another example can be seen below with the launch of Carlsberg in Santiago, Chile.

  1. Collaborating with local breweries

The brand awareness of a globally recognized brand combined with the local know-how and fanbase of a small brewery could be a cocktail for success. The combination of two brands could be a distinguishing factor for many consumers. It also enhances the company’s image as a supporter of small businesses and entrepreneurs. An example of this is Matuska with Pilsner. 

Additional marketing tips for craft brewers

Embrace e-commerce for alcohol and beer

If you look carefully, the internet has a lot to offer for your company. Customised targeted ads, Online purchase options, subscription plans for customers and much more. Tap into the e-commerce sector and showcase your drinks on your website. Go a step further and show your customers how you brew your beers and what makes it unique.

Manage your advertising spend efficiently throughout the year

Although many people drink beer around the year, studies show that customers are  likely to buy more during the summer. Pushing your marketing efforts that extra mile during these periods could help you reach the finish line ahead of your competitors. And don’t forget to do the same around big holidays such as St. Patrick’s day, Christmas and many other local holidays. 

Content marketing

Content marketing is one of the best ways for building brand awareness especially for small breweries. Blog posts, How-to guides and videos for making your own cocktails, or showcasing the journey of your beer from grain to the can are all great ways to engage and entertain your customer and build loyalty. Offering interesting and engaging experiences at the POS should be top priority for brands today. 

Commercial Proposition

Craft beer brands launching in a new market often struggle with commercialising their product. It is important to translate their brand positioning into a commercial proposition, understanding: 

  • what is the occasion mix that the brand and range is targeting (e.g. is it an alcohol free beer, then maybe daytime occasions could be the starting point) ? 
  • what outlet mix is right (e.g. a traditional pub, a craft beer pub or a burger joint)?
  • what SKU mix is right? (e.g. often craft brands focus on draught but it is much easier to get distribution with bottles or cans and then expand)?

This way, a brand is able to map the city in which it is launching, starting with the end in mind and understand what is the best route to market to launch.

Partnering with the right distributors

Starting from which occasions and which types of outlets a brand wants to be in, it is easier to identify the distributors and wholesalers that have access to those places and develop strategic partnerships with them. It is crucially important to understand what are the overlaps in the product portfolios and ranges of the craft brand and of the distributors to ensure that there is no cannibalization and that clear objectives are set and can be measured upon.


We at passion communications believe in making customers passionate about your brand! Reach out to us below to find out how we can help your brand through our expertise and experience in the beers and spirits industry.