Homebrew retailers can use these 3 easy strategies to strengthen your core customer base during a time of crisis
Homebrewing has always had two pillars of the hobby; the first is the technical side which delves in IBU, ABV, SRM, SG, and the like. The second pillar of homebrewing is what I like to call the ‘intangible side’, which delves in socialization amongst like-minded hobbyists. Most homebrewers that I know thrive on the social aspect of this hobby, and I can think of no place where homebrewers socialize more than at their local club meeting.
The relationship that you build with your local homebrew club is very important when building repeat customers among the club’s membership base. The more support that your shop is able to lend to the club, the more of its members will be walking through your front door ready to purchase the ingredients for their next brew day or to purchase an upgrade to their homebrew system. Those club members will also be eager to tell their new members to ‘buy local’ to every new face at their meetings.
But in today’s world of social distancing, many homebrew clubs have been forced to stay dormant. So how can your shop continue to connect with your key customers? Check out these 3 easy ways that you can keep those clubs active, and keep the customers coming in your shop.
Offer to serve as a drop-off for a mixed six-pack of club beer
Last Fall, Asheville Brewers Supply in Asheville, NC served as the drop-off point for the Mountain Ale & Lager Tasters (MALT) homebrew club’s mixed six-pack project. Each member of the club who signed up to participate brewed a batch of homebrew and brought a six-pack into the shop.
The beer from each club member was repacked into a “MALT Member Mix Six” pack and made available for participants to pick up. The club then organized a Zoom meeting to taste the beers together and offer feedback to the participants on their beer.
“Choosing our local homebrew supply store (Asheville Brewers Supply) as the drop-off/pick up point was a no brainer. ABS has supported the local homebrew community for years, and they immediately volunteered to be available to support us as we try to provide education, sharing and fun to our club.” said Chris Frey, the MALT club member who organized the effort, “In these challenging times, it just makes perfect sense to support each other.”
Not only does organizing a club mix six-pack build goodwill for your shop within the club, but it will proactively get their members into your shop to drop-off their beer.
Facilitate a virtual presentation to the club
Like many businesses, a majority of homebrew clubs have shifted their meetings to online platforms. However, the content gap needed to make these meetings successful can sometimes be a challenge, since many club meetings feature some sort of educational presentation. Homebrew shops are uniquely positioned to offer this component of a virtual club meeting.
Whether it’s simply providing a showcase of new products in stock, or even collaborating with the American Homebrewers Association to bring a speaker to the meeting, your shop has an opportunity to strengthen your connections to the club by providing content for their virtual meetings.
“With COVID-19 preventing in-person club meetings since March 2020 and potentially for the foreseeable future, the AHA launched the Virtual Club Meetings program to deliver high-quality educational content to clubs participating in our insurance program,” said John Moorhead, Competition Coordinator and Government Affairs Manager for the American Homebrewers Association.
“Since last April, the AHA has taken part in over 100 virtual club meetings all over the country. We’re humbled by the support of the homebrew community to the AHA during this difficult time, and proud to support our homebrew clubs during this challenging time, and will continue to do what we can to provide for clubs as we all navigate this pandemic.”
The AHA’s next window to sign up for a Virtual Homebrew Club meeting opens on April 1, 2021.
Offering order deliveries to club meetings
The landscape of the homebrewing industry has been altered, and most retailers have embraced alternative purchasing options such as contactless pick-up, call-ahead ordering, and in some cases, home delivery. If your shop does not have the staff needed to provide home delivery, there is another option; club meeting delivery.
Though many clubs are still hosting their meetings via online platforms, some have begun to meet again with proper social distancing regulations in place. This is a great venue for your shop to offer a delivery service that will not require as much time and effort as home delivery.
If your local club is only meeting online, your shop can still stand to benefit by attending the meeting to ask if any members want to put in an order for pick-up from you.