Nielsen reports that 7 in 10 beer shoppers arrive at the aisle without knowing what they’ll buy.1 Perhaps that should come as no surprise — as they’re met with a burgeoning selection of styles, flavors and brands.

Where 20 years ago beer distributors offered 200 SKUs on average, today that number approaches 1,200.2 Choice rules.

In the face of such intense competition and incredible variety, it’s worth asking: Does brand loyalty still matter in the beer market?

The short answer is “yes.” Maybe more now than ever before.

Shelves of beer bottles

The path to brand loyalty

Ultimately, brand loyalty is all about perceived value. Brand loyalty creates an emotional connection to your brand, rather than one based only on price.

That can be an extremely powerful connection. Brand-loyal customers come back again and again, purchasing across your portfolio. They can also become brand champions — sharing their experiences with others to help you reach all-new customers.

Creating such a strong emotional bond comes down to how well you know your customers. Before anything else, you have to do your homework.

What does your brand stand for? What are customers saying about you? What positive or negative associations do they hold? What motivates them? Are you keeping up with the latest trends — such as the shift toward lighter styles among health-conscious beer drinkers?

Beer glasses being raised in a toast

Steps to set your brand apart

While quality is essential to brand loyalty, it doesn’t stop there. Connecting with customers goes far beyond the beer you brew.

Think about ways you can speak to audiences in their own language. Try to relate to what they value most. That might mean targeting a niche subculture to develop a lifestyle brand — one focused on urban cool, beach attitude, the great outdoors, whatever fits.

Developing one-of-a-kind, compelling content goes a long way toward helping your brand stand out. That’s where influencer marketing is worth considering.

Real-world events can play a critical role in building an emotional connection with customers. There’s no better opportunity for interaction than through unique, in-person experiences. Meet customers where they are: music venues, bars, festivals, tattoo parlors, sports venues, you name it.

At the same time, building an online community offers customers a convenient way to interact with your brand and one another.

And, don’t forget about swag. Alongside label and package design, items such as apparel or drinkware help tell your brand story and build relationships. A strong merchandising program can even turn into a healthy revenue source.

Just the beginning

We’d love to talk with you about ways to build loyalty for your beer brand. Interested? Just let us know and we’ll make it happen.