microbrewery goes international

Why tailoring your product leads to business growth

The  microbrewery that went from a backyard shed to an international player

The craft beer market has come a long way in the last ten years, from around five brands to over five hundred today. According to the owners of Cavalier Brewing, that can include brewers of 700 litres to brewers of over one million litres. Despite its growth over recent times, the industry is still finding its feet around clear definitions of what constitutes a microbrewery

Microbreweries are mainly known for their specialty beers, typically run in a small-batch or boutique style, which may only last for a certain season or event. These beers are often designed to showcase special ingredients and can be themed for a special occasion, such as Cavalier Courage. Microbrewers also love to experiment with different styles of beer, different ingredients  or a different fermentation processes. Every beer is a science or an experiment and generally good fun.

Cavalier is an up and coming microbrewery gaining a strong foothold in  what was a pure duopally between CUB and Lion Nathan, not that long ago. Long gone are the days of market domination by CUB when John Elliot was going to "Fosterise the world" and boldly stated that Lion Nathan will never win any real market share. Both of which have now been consumed by two of the world's largest breweries.  

Driving growth through market trends and

listening to the customer

With the overall consumption of beer declining in Australia, the craft beer industry continues to boom. Now accounting for just under 10% of the market it is estimated to be worth upwards of $400 million (2016) as reported by the ABC.  One reason for this continual growth  comes down to the overall customer experience you get with craft beers.  99% of those surveyed in a recent article by Beer Cartel, said they would prefer to buy their beer from an independent brewer and 85% were happy to buy from a Gypsy brewer. A  whopping 77% were reluctant to buy their craft beer from a multinational.

Cavalier is one of those locally owned independants who started brewing beer in the backyard shed. When the operation started to grow, they took to Gypsy brewing (beg, borrow or steal)  from other brewers who have excess capacity or simply like to help out. Having built their own operation, Cavalier now helps out other microbrewers in the same way, building relationships whilst maximising production.

The microbrewery and craft beer industry has developed its own persona, creating a new way to enjoy beer. A persona which is not so much about the alcohol and more about the lifestyle associated with consuming craft beer. The pubs, gardens and brewery settings all go together to create an overall experience creating an environment that stands for healthy ingredients that are locally made and operated.

It's all about winning the tap and not being a dick

So how do you go from the backyard shed in Brunswick Victoria seven years ago, to launching your brand on the world market in India? The boys from Cavalier, Heath and Andrew, put their growth down to watching the market trends and listening to the customers. It's now a multi million dollar industry and today's customers are well informed, constantly changing and very demanding. "We need to continually review the data and listen to the customer feedback in order to supply a product the market wants", said Andrew

According to Heath, having a good product tailored to market demand is one key to growing your business. Another is "winning the tap", which is more about branding, presentation and not being a "dick" when it comes to dealing with industry players and building relationships. Having a good presence in the local (hotel or pub), provides a thirst for your product and creates demand at the bottlo. (liquor outlet, drug store or off licence) 

In order to manage the customers expectation and provide a product that meets their needs, you have to know what those needs and expectations are in the first place. Listening to the customer is the bases of any customer experience program. The VoC (voice of the customer) is a powerful tool to gather critical customer feedback through surveys, forums, questionnaires and word of mouth transforming your offer and gaining deeper insights about who your customers are. 

As an example , Cavalier has recently moved part of its production into cans as the typical craft beer drinker is conscious of the environment, likes to attend festivals and concerts and will often travel to various events. Cans are lighter, cheaper, less dangerous and easily disposed of or recycled. Despite having invested a large sum of money in a bottling machine, understanding your customer and reading the trends ensures that you remain a relevant player in the market and continue to grow your business.

Ashley Brimacombe

A bit about the author

 Ashley is a leading expert  in customer experience management and he is the principal partner of SGS Consulting, a CX management company .