Cider Corner: Understanding Consumer Needs Propels Blake’s Growth Spurt

This is a part of a monthly series of Q&As with members of the cider community from across the U.S. Brewer Magazine will share business and personal insights from decision makers in the cider industry to help you get to know each other better and learn more to better develop your own brand.

Chelsea Cox, Director of Marketing ​& Brand Development​,​ Blake’s Hard Cider​ — Armada, Michigan​

​BREWER: ​How has your business strategy evolved to help grow and stay competitive?
COX: ​In the last ​five​ years, our strategy changed tremendously from making ciders WE love, to making ciders our customers love, without compromising our ethics, mission, or quality. We still offer an adventurous and innovative lineup of ciders; we just do a better job of listening to our audiences wants and needs. This trick took us from ​No. ​25 in the country to ​No. ​9.

​BREWER: Who is your mentor in the industry and why? What have you learned from them?
COX: ​We take some queues from the craft beer industry and their approach to market and sales strategy and understanding the importance of chain relationships and placements. Some examples are Bell’s and Brew Dog who are continual innovation, growing purposefully and not through trend-chasing.

​BREWER: What idea did you or your team come up with lately that has been a big benefit to how your cidery functions?
​COX: ​It seems small, but we adjoined offices of our Director of Sales, Marketing, and Production, so that we can unify better from cider making to sales strategies, to new cider development.

​BREWER: If you had one business strategy that you could implement to better the cider industry, what would it be?
COX: ​A national awareness play for the entire category. There are too many misunderstandings and misconceptions surrounding cider. Let’s break down communication barriers and educate consumers who love craft beer and wine to learn cider.

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