Capturing the Post-Holiday Wave of New Homebrewers

Homebrew kits are the perfect gift for many. But how does your shop capitalize on those who want to go beyond the kit?

The homebrewing hobby undoubtedly benefits from the generosity of our loved ones. Homebrew kits are a popular gift during the holiday season. As a homebrew shop owner – you are probably familiar with the phrase; “for Christmas, this year my [insert relative here] got me a homebrew kit”.

With so many people being introduced to the hobby in the next few weeks, not only will those new hobbyists be searching for information about their newfound passion – but they will also be sourcing ingredients for their next batch. BSG Handcraft wants to make sure that these new faces entering the hobby will become new customers for your shop.

A quick glance at Google search trends for “how to make beer” reveals an annual spike in people researching information about the brewing process in the first 3 months of the year. The January – March timeframe is when these new hobbyists will be coming to your stores, and we’ve outlined a few suggestions to ensure that their first impressions will turn them in to repeat customers.

Prepare a Clean and Welcoming Environment

This might seem like an obvious one – but consider this a helpful reminder that store owners should always try to assess what kind of experience is being offered to first-time customers. If your malt storage area has a thin layer of dust from the grain mill – then now is a good time to tidy that area up, and develop a more regimented cleaning process.

Take a good look around your store and make sure that there aren’t any dusty products on display, or stock that is out of place. If any of your products have been on the shelf for longer than 3 months – consider marking them down, or removing them completely.

If you have an acquaintance who is willing, try asking them to come into your store and take a look around with “fresh eyes”. You might be surprised what minor adjustments make a major difference in the eyes of a first-time buyer.

Place Your Items Strategically

Remember that most of the new faces coming in your shop will probably have the bare minimum of equipment to brew with since that is what likely came in their kit. Ask yourself – what are the items that these people will need next as they dive deeper into the hobby? Some items that don’t often come in a kit, but will be good to have in stock are:

  • Wort chillers
  • Carboys
  • Auto-siphons
  • Recipe books

Displaying those items prominently in an area of your shop that sees a lot of foot traffic will help increase sales. Consider creating a “Beyond the Kit” display near the front of your shop with these items.

It might be beneficial to display some recipes that feature readily-available ingredients in your shop so that you can suggest an alternative recipe for those customers who come in looking for ingredients that are difficult to source.

Promote Your Local Club

Don’t take for granted the fact that your local homebrew club exists. Though clubs are usually open to new members – keep in mind that clubs are run by volunteers. The motivation for growing membership in the club is hit-and-miss with different clubs.

Getting solid growth in your local club will benefit you – the shop owner. The more exposure these new hobbyists can get in their first few months, the longer they will want to stay active.

If your local club has a robust membership growth strategy – that is fantastic. However, if your club has not made themselves very accessible, then it will benefit you to actively refer new customers to the club. If the club has a membership poster that lists meeting dates and times – be sure to display that prominently in your shop.

Like many Americans, some homebrew clubs have been forced to remain dormant during the pandemic. If your local club isn’t meeting regularly – then be sure to provide information about the club’s Facebook group near your register, and mention it as customers are checking out.

Easy to Implement Marketing Strategies

The American Homebrewers Association’s 2019 annual survey of homebrew retailers showed that 40% of all respondents identified ‘marketing’ as their #1 pain point of running a homebrew retail business.

Your marketing strategy doesn’t need to be a headache. These potential new customers will be looking for you, so all you need to do is make sure that they can find you. Some easy-to-implement marketing strategies to adapt on the next few months are:

Don’t ignore your social channels

Leaving your social media pages inactive for more than a few weeks can be detrimental to your business. Your activity on those channels reinforces the fact that the shop is open and ready for business. If you haven’t been active on social media, then your first-time customers could mistakenly assume that your business is not active either.

Make sure your website is up to date and optimized for Google searches

Stop reading this blog right now, and type this into Google: “homebrew store near me”. What shows up? Is your business the first thing that shows in the Google search? Are your hours correct? Is your website and contact info listed?

This will be one of the first tools that the new wave of post-Christmas homebrewers will be using to find you. If your business has not been claimed on Google – be sure to make a free account and claim your business so that you can being updating that information.

Now is also a good opportunity to audit the reviews of your business on Google. Do those reviews accurately portray your level of customer service? If not – then it might be time to reach out to some of your loyal customers to write positive reviews of your shop.

Promote your next ________

These customers have made their way into your shop – but make sure that you have something ready to promote that will bring them back. If you have an upcoming “Spring Cleaning” sale, be sure to have a flyer to promote the items you will be including. Or if the shop is planning any upcoming classes or events, make sure that the info about them is displayed in a place that it will be seen.

Capture their contact info

Keeping in touch with your customers is critical. By offering an email sign-up sheet in your store, you can easily capture those customer’s contact info and get them into your communication pipeline. If you find that there aren’t many newsletter sign-ups, try offering a small incentive such as “10% off your next purchase” to encourage them to sign-up.