Why BrewDog Is Leaning Into Field-Friendly CRM

Lisa Johnston
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As today’s consumer behaviors wind and shift, being successful hinges upon having technology that supports both their fluctuating needs and those of the sales team.

For craft beer brewer BrewDog, which sell through retail and operates more than 115 bars and restaurants globally under a new mission statement of “Beer For All,” this has meant investing in its customer relationship management (CRM) platform to be more friendly in the field.  

The sustainably minded company, which is B-Corp certified and a carbon-negative brewery, includes the BrewDog beer and Hawkes cider brands, as well as a distilling arm within its business. It prides itself on competing with the alcohol beverage giants through its unique marketing — a strategy that’s serving it well, Jerry Shedden, head of on-trade, tells CGT.

[See also: How Traeger’s CX Team Became its Most Data-Driven]

The company recently upgraded its CRM platform to more effectively meet the needs of its scaling business. Shedden, who joined BrewDog last year with the goal to aggressively grow its distribution footprint and market value share, says the previous platform was no longer up to task for the company’s expanding needs.

“The system itself was cumbersome, and one of the major drawbacks was that you had to be online to use it,” he notes. For field teams, spotty and cumbersome Wi-Fi is a common barrier, and requiring an online connection only slows things down.   

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Jerry Shedden, head of on-trade, BrewDog: “Consumer spend levels and frequency of visits are two of the key metrics we track. As pressures on disposable income become greater post-Brexit — and coupled with cost increases in goods and utilities — consumers are looking for more and more premium and high-quality experiences when they do go out. Craft Beer plays an essential role in this journey, so driving distribution but understanding where your brands fit best based in the outlet type and consumer profile is key.”

The company tapped Aforza to upgrade the account management and retail execution functionality of its CRM, drawn by the technology’s ability to provide an experience tailored to the field user. The platform, which went live April 1, is both easier to use and mobile friendly — two crucial components for BrewDog, Shedden emphasizes.

It’s still early days with the new tech, but they’re already seeing benefits, he says, especially when it comes to their sales team embracing the change and using it to its full capacity. It didn’t hurt that they were able to overcome skepticism by quickly demonstrating how it differed from the previous way of doing things.   

“The benefits of an offline system have been welcomed by the sales team as they are no longer spending hours manually filling out data post a day in trade,” he notes. “Coupled with the capability of the system — [such as] — the route-planning element — this has significantly improved efficiency.”

[See also: A New Day for Retail Execution]

As a result, BrewDog has recorded a 250%-plus improvement in results from Q1 to Q2. The platform has also become a training and development tool by identifying where sales team members require assistance and highlighting best practices, and the beer company continues to work with Aforza to refine as they go.  

Having a CRM that’s up to speed is becoming more important in meeting the needs of today’s consumers and enabling sales teams to support their retail partners; for consumer goods companies that want to improve their visibility, there may be no more important feature than ease of use, according to Shedden.

“Very simply, have a platform that your teams buy into and will then use,” he advises. “That way you will get the best return from your investment, and you will also have something that is far deeper than a reporting tool.”

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