Staying Relevant: Lessons from the Beer Industry

Press enter to search
Close search
Open Menu

Staying Relevant: Lessons from the Beer Industry

By Laura Gurski, Accenture - 03/01/2019

The brewing industry continues to experience major shifts. Changing demographics and generational influences are also creating new drink and flavor trends. Just look at Europe’s craft beer scene, which experienced huge growth with new product launches more than doubling, according to figures released by Mintel. 

The way consumers buy beer has also evolved. Today’s mobile-enabled consumers are constantly evaluating and re-evaluating their purchasing decisions. They will choose the brands most relevant to them at an increasingly rapid pace. And they’ll pay a premium: Consider how craft has become the “new premium.” Consumers are happy to pay more for smaller-batch, more hand-crafted options, rather than the products that are mass-produced. Consumer desire for new experiences has also led to more new beer styles than ever before. 

And we’re already seeing how new and emerging technologies can play a key role in delivering these experiences. Look at how Intelligent Brewing Company invites visitors to its website to provide input on flavors and carbonation levels, with the data then fed into the brewery’s algorithm to produce new recipes that are refined using real-time consumer feedback.

In fact, consumers are coming to expect beverages be created just for them — whether that’s a drink custom-made for their individual genetic makeup, or one adapted to their unique anatomy. And brands will soon be able to go even further and tailor a product (or an interaction) to an individual’s particular mood. That’s personalization on a whole new level and it won’t just mean matching beverages with consumer tastes, needs, or even their DNA.

For brewers, the implications of this form of “precision manufacturing” will take them far beyond mere supply chain and fulfillment challenges. Manufacturing itself will need to change dramatically. Expect to see brands increase their ability to make very late-stage product adjustments, as well as move the manufacturing process much closer to consumers. 

What does this teach other consumer goods companies? If constant change is the new normal, they must learn to continuously flex and adapt by developing fine-tuned abilities to sense, shape and respond to each key consumer trend and market development.

More than ever, we’re seeing that today’s digitally enabled consumers are constantly evaluating and re-evaluating their purchase decisions. Relevance is becoming the key brand differentiator. And consumers are willing to go the extra mile to ensure they get it — by actively participating in all aspects of the brand. 

Just look at how Brewdog has evolved from a punk craft brewer into a personality that global fans have embraced wholesale. Whether it’s moving into hospitality, becoming a subscription content streamer, or even offering investors the chance to fly on the world’s first craft beer airline, Brewdog is a shining example of the power of creating a brand that is more than just a product — and putting it right into the heart of consumer lifestyles.

But to succeed in delivering personalized experiences to the next generation of consumers and build brand value in such a complex landscape, companies will need to be highly targeted, agile and able to operate without boundaries. 

The reality is that there can be no one-size-fits-all approach, as there is no “typical” consumer and the same individual’s needs will vary depending on time and context. And in this new era of digitally born disruptors and consumer control, purchases will increasingly be determined based on a brand’s relevance to the buyer’s needs in the moment. 

That means consumer goods companies must seek to develop a sophisticated understanding of the specific consumer, geographical, and product opportunities available, and move with new precision-targeted strategies and business models to capture them. 

They will need to draw on vast amounts of consumer data and unlock the analytics insights to boost sales and strengthen omnichannel capabilities, so consumers receive the same level of personalized convenience however they choose to shop.

Importantly, they must also seek to connect with those consumers through creative user experiences crafted via modern, data-driven marketing propositions, using a whole ecosystem of services, technologies and partners.

Successful companies will capture the value of rapidly evolving digital technologies and focus efforts on building a company with the capabilities to deliver relevance at scale. Getting that right will be the secret to future growth.  

About the Author
Laura Gurski is senior managing director and global industry lead for consumer goods and services at Accenture.