Should Your Flagship Beer Determine Your Brand’s Identity?

Breweries can walk a fine line between using the success of a flagship beer to catapult a brand and being considered a brewery that runs on gimmicks.

It’s something Mother Earth Brewing Company — which enjoys a fair amount of notoriety among Cream Ale lovers for its Cali’ Creamin’ — approaches with care when coming up with new releases, said Director of Marketing Kamron Khannakhjavani.

While the vanilla Cream Ale is a big seller for Mother Earth, the brand has taken care to develop a full portfolio that includes IPAs, Stouts and Lagers. 

“We know that Cali is our lead dog and we know that there is demand for additional flavors and iterations, but we also don’t want to be considered a gimmicky brewery,” Khannakhjavani said. “We’ve always hung our hat on being able to execute any style with the best of them, and putting all our eggs in the “Cali basket” doesn’t necessarily send that message.”

Their flagship Cream Ale has spawned two fruit-flavored progenies, the Cali Creamsicle and the Cali Peaches & Cream, but consumers shouldn’t look for that line to increase dramatically. You can have too much of a good thing.

“We feel like the more flavors there are, the more each flavor becomes diluted within our lineup,” Khannakhjavani said. “It’s the law of diminishing returns. We don’t want to risk overloading consumers with too many choices and cheapening our brand.”

Knowing when it is time to create a new flavor is a challenging question to answer, he said, but hard data helps drive that decision.

“We don’t necessarily use the success of one to justify a new flavor, but rather to validate its own creation,” Khannakhjavani said. “In other words, we aren’t taking the success of Peaches and saying, ‘OK, now it’s time to do it again.’ If it’s as successful as we think it will be, we will instead walk away having justified the investment in Peaches itself. 

“Then at a later date, we may use cumulative data validation over multiple SKUs to say, ‘OK, now the market is telling us they want another one, and we have all this data to support it.’ We have always been a business that lets the market pull us through, not forcing things and taking big risks.”

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