How Threes Has Found its New Connective Tissue to Consumers

With taprooms located around Brooklyn, Threes Brewing built a solid reputation for having great classic styles and being a place to meet and drink. With about a third of its overall production being poured out of its main taproom, beer served across the bar was a standard way of doing business.

“And our business model was really to cater to the cool bars and restaurants in the city,” added co-founder Josh Stylman. “So COVID hit, and naturally, we said, ‘Oh, shit, our business model relies on congregation. How is this going to work either in our owned-and-operated properties or in wholesale, where all of our retail partners are closed to?”

Having a web background benefitted Stylman as the brewery quickly worked with canner Iron Heart to pump out more cans for not just distribution, but they also set up an online store that was multifaceted.

“We couldn’t sell direct-to-consumer over the bar, so we had to do something,” he said. “I was a web dude for 20 years. And I hired a COO about a year before the pandemic, who was the COO of Kickstarter. So between the two of us, we’re probably more qualified to run this version of the company, than the old one, in a weird kind of way.”

The early returns came in well and it worked. But Stylman thought perhaps consumers were buying this way to help a local business, a bit of charity. Or were they buying this way because they liked the service? He feels it was a little bit of both.

“I think the thing that’s even more interesting to me is that we’ve always had a pretty big to-go business. People just buy cases for the weekend and that kind of thing,” he said. “Most of those people now pre-purchase it online then they show up, flash their credit card and it’s paid for.

“I like that for a bunch of reasons. One is because there’s no line. When they show up, their beers are ready and it’s a better customer experience. Two: we have a more human connection with them. We can email them and say, ‘Hey, how did you like that Lager beer?’ And we get a more immediate and direct connection with them.”

Threes quickly offered delivery, pick up, and added things like loyalty points per purchase and even beer subscription packages. All but delivery (bartenders and servers can get back to doing what they love with the public) will stick for the future after seeing some success.

“The feeling is, whatever “normal” becomes, we know the web will now be the ‘connective tissue’ between the various things we do,” he said.

When the pandemic hit, Threes switched platforms to enable a better eCommerce response.

“Even now, if you really pay attention for like a minute, you’ll click around and you’ll see there are two different websites there that are stitched together,” Stylman said with a smirk. “We’re not set up like an internet company. We’re trying to figure out how we evolve from there in the long haul, but we’re feeling pretty good about just kind of the state of where we’re at right now.

One of the more exciting things Threes did was build a loyalty program. When a consumer spends $1 with Threes, they get five cents cashback in credits every time.

“Some people don’t even notice it,” Stylman said. “Others, we’ve gotten emails like, ‘Hey, I’m on my next free four-pack. Thank you!’ And, you know, it’s for us, that’s the equivalent of doing buybacks in the brewpub. And we can now do that virtually.”

Early on in the online shop, they watched user behavior and purchasing trends for the first few months starting in March.

“We saw the same few people buying cases of Vliet Pilsner, our flagship Pils. Or Logical Conclusion IPA, or these mixed packs every two weeks, four weeks, whatever it was,” he said. “By June, July, we were like, wait a second, there’s a pattern emerging here, these are the same people.

“Similar to the loyalty thing, let’s create a little incentive. If they’re going to keep doing that we’ll give them 10% off — or whatever the numbers work out to be — if they’re gonna keep buying the same things.”

One route is a subscription for the flagships for people that are creatures of habit and one for other people who want Threes to curate an experience for them.

“They want the new stuff,” Stylman said. “It’s kind of like you going to a Bruce Springsteen concert. You might be the kind of person who wants to hear ‘Rosalita’ or you might want to hear the new record.

“I think for us, we wanted to cater to both. So we put together these products.”

It was created through a third-party piece of software that Threes had to do some integration, and it’s working well.

“I wouldn’t say it’s like an I-hit-it-out-of-the-park home run product by any means. We have some loyal customers, and it’s worth it for us to do it,” Stylman said. “I think the feedback we’ve gotten from the people who are doing it is really, really positive for us and that’s enough reason.”

Photo courtesy Cory Smith/Threes Brewing

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