Two people toasting with beer glasses at a bar

Define your audience

Who drinks your beer? Beer consumers exist on a spectrum. From brand loyalists who haven’t tried a different beer in decades to casual consumers who just want something cheap and cold. It’s paramount to have more than just a hunch about who you’re selling to.

By defining your audience, you’ll be better suited to then defining where the challenge lies. “Ask yourself some questions,” MKR Chief Strategy Officer Bob Bourgeois says, “Where are the gaps? Pinpoint the problem you’re trying to solve. Is it volume? Distribution? Conquest? Are young people not trying your brand? Do older drinkers not want to try something new?”

There are no solutions without problems. And the only way to find your brand’s problem is by first finding your audience.

Get the data

Now that you’ve set your sights on a challenge, it’s all about gathering data. There are plenty of traditional methods for gathering information around your audience’s preferences like focus groups, taste tests, psychographics, and more. But don’t feel like there’s one right way to learn more about potential customers.

“Think outside the box,” Bob advises. “Just because it’s scientific doesn’t mean you can’t be creative.” Bob recalls a time when he was doing research for a brewery and the team came up with the clever idea to serve customers the “wrong” beer. “We partnered with a local establishment and when a customer ordered a competitor’s beer, we’d send out our beer. We’d then ask the customer how they felt about the ruse. Was it a pleasant surprise? An upgrade? Did it ruin their night? Why?”

Bob reminds us, “Beer drinkers don’t use terms like ‘usage occasion’ or ‘on-premise.’ They go to bars. They go to dinner. They watch a game.” Employing some creative thinking can help gather data in situations that don’t feel as sterile as a focus group or as impersonal as a survey.

Toasting with beer glasses

Tell the story

It’s also important to not lose sight of the goal. The data is just a foundation upon which you build a marketing campaign. But remember, the consumer isn’t the only audience you need to please. “If you’re in the beer industry, you’re well aware of the three-tier distribution model,” Bob explains. “You want to be able to tell a story to the distributor. A story rooted in truth. You want to be able to say ‘Your salespeople should be pushing our product to these people in this way and here’s the data to prove it.’”

With solid research you’ll be able to make provable, measurable claims about what makes your product unique and why beer drinkers are going to want it.

“It’s not just ‘check out this kickass packaging’ or ‘here’s a funny ad.’ It’s excellent, differentiating marketing, world-class advertising, and a business plan, too.” By basing your marketing efforts on a foundation of audience research, your brand can better connect with consumers and distributors.

And if you’re looking for an agency partner that can help find your audience, grow your brand, and provide distributors and consumers with the data-driven story they need to hear, we’d love to talk.