Should You Be Creating New, or Building Up Current, Customer Base?

It is definitely easier to keep a loyal crowd engaged than trying to attract a new audience.

“Tapping into new avenues — no pun intended — to find new consumers can be difficult,” admits Misty Vandergriend of Empyrean Brewing. That doesn’t mean not trying to create those ways to attract a new consumer, but making sure your fanbase is sated can be important in this time of struggle for many breweries.

“There is so much noise in the space currently that marketing to the people we know and the beer that we see they like to drink is definitely much easier,” said Oakshire’s Dan Russo.

The Portland brewery is still finding ways to reach new customers in and around its anchor towns as well as through its distribution footprint.

“With new brewers opening every week along with the ‘I want the newest of the new mentality,’ it is not easy,” Russo said. “We’re cool to the people that know us and frequent our taprooms. And if they have never been there we make it cool and inviting for them, so that when they see us in their favorite grocery store, they’ll be sure to pick up our beer. … It’s a slow and arduous process, but we’re figuring it out.”

One thing that Empyrean does that gets new people to try the Nebraska brewery’s beer and is also a great community outreach event is our monthly Beer School. It is free to the public and offers samples and food pairings for three of their beers every month.

Each person gets free samples and beer education as well as a good time with friends or family.

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“We have a lot of people who come to beer school regularly and bring a friend that is new to Empyrean,” Vandergriend said. “That is one of the best ways we can reach a new market. The other is pint nights at bars/restaurants and samplings inside grocery/retail stores.”

At Living The Dream, GM Michael Acerra says they strive to make all of the patrons feel welcomed and appreciated.

“Once we start to recognize a familiar face, we make it a point to learn that person’s name — and then they are family,” he said. “First-time visitors are just future family members.

The Colorado brand offers multiple prizes for the various weekly activities and games they host such as trivia, music trivia, and cornhole to help entice first-timers along with rewarding loyal fans for coming back.

Oakshire does not have a mug club or loyalty rewards program. Instead, Russo said, it is all about the daily connection that helps to drive and allow the company’s pubs to thrive and drive sales in distribution.”

“We have always called it making and sharing great beer experiences,” he said. “Whether it is with our everyday regulars or with a new person walking in the door. We cater to our community far and wide.”

Russo said they host charitable donations for the “Oakshire Inspires” events each week at pubs in Portland and Eugene where they bring in local musicians to play for the crowd, and local artists the opportunity to place pieces on the walls.

“We bring all of those elements together into a community gathering place where people feel liked, safe, and appreciated, along with the ability to drink so rad beer,” Russo said. “This, for returning customers, helps keep them around. And for new customers, it absolutely makes them want to return.”

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