CommercialSeptember 22, 2020

How microbreweries can adapt post-lockdown, so they don’t find themselves over a barrel

Going to the pub is a British tradition and many drinking establishments across the UK have been open again for nearly two months now. With the easing of national restrictions, breweries may have also reopened or be looking to start up again; or, if they remained open during the lockdown by operating online, they might be distributing their beer to pubs and bars once more. We look at five things brewers can do to boost sales and protect their business. 

Reach out and make connections

If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to touch base with pubs and bars you previously traded with before the national lockdown to see how things are for them now they’ve reopened, and how you can work together from here on out. It’s also an opportunity for you to make contact with other pubs, bars, shops and even online outlets to see if you can strike up a deal for them to serve or distribute your brew. As the age old saying goes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. If you had to postpone brewery tours, maybe now is the time to get back in touch with the people who had them scheduled and get them booked in again.

Keep you, your people and your patrons safe 

An undercover team from Sky in Greater Manchester discovered that nine out of the 10 pubs and bars they visited were not following government guidance by asking for customers’ contact details. Plus, in two venues, social distancing was being ignored. If you have your own drinking establishment or offer a behind the scenes look at your brewery, make sure you’re complying with the track and trace and social distancing guidance. 

Have your options open

While lockdown restrictions have eased, some people may not feel comfortable drinking out in pubs and bars just yet. A survey by e-commerce company ChannelAdvisor and marketing firm Dynata found that 40% of people who have returned to UK shops find the in-store experience “less enjoyable” than before the Coronavirus pandemic.

If you’ve been selling your products online, offering subscription boxes or virtual tours, don’t forget this audience now the national lockdown has ended. This is not only an extra revenue stream for your business, it shows your loyalty to your digital customers. In fact, 30.8% of loyal customers are more likely to spend extra funds with a brand they feel an affinity to. It’s also worth noting when it comes to Millennials, 62% believe that online content drives their devotion to a brand – so, on top of selling your beer online, make sure you’re shouting about your products and services on digital channels, such as your website, social media and email marketing. 

Do something creative

If you want to stand out in the craft beer circle, or have a surplus of your brew, is it time to think outside the beer barrel? Camden Town Brewery is giving away around 45,000 beers in what it claims is “the world’s first TV ad you can (kind of) drink”. Launching it during the UEFA Champions League semi-finals, the unusual but standout advert encourages people to scan a QR code via their TV screens to win a free beer. It may sound counterintuitive to give away your products for free – but it can introduce your drinks to a new audience, which could turn into sales down the line, and it shows your dedicated customers that you’re happy to give something back. 

Meanwhile, in Japan, as sales of beer are currently down by 52.1% compared to this time last year, three companies are working together to turn the wasted beer into gin. Part of the sales from the new Revive Gin will go towards supporting local cultural and entertainment industries that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Be prepared for further restrictions 

Many towns and cities across the UK are now in local lockdowns to minimise the spread of the virus. In these areas, people are not allowed to socialise with anyone outside their household in public venues, including pubs and bars. This could mean drinking establishments in the affected areas have a lower head count, and as a knock-on effect may be selling less craft beer from microbreweries. 

If there is a second wave of Coronavirus cases, the reintroduction of national restrictions hasn’t been ruled out. Also, Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield, has said that pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops should be closed before schools during any local or national lockdowns to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases. 

We’d advise making a note of any lessons you learnt from the March lockdown, or look at introducing a contingency plan, to ensure you have an easy transition if your business needs to temporarily close or operate on an online-only basis again. 

If you’ve reopened, are brewing more beer as you’re supplying pubs and bars once again or are offering brewery tours, your insurance policy may need changing to make sure your business is protected. At The Insurance Centre, we can help to cover your brewery for both stock and equipment, as well as tours and delivery services. Get in touch today to speak to one of our specialist advisors.