The 3 Marketing Keys Dray Wants to Focus On for Lagunitas

This is a part of a continuing series of Q&As with members of the brewing community from across the US.
Brewer Magazine will share business and personal insights from Brewmasters, Head Brewers, Brewing Managers, Sales Directors, QCQA Managers and others each weekend to help you get to know each other better in the industry and learn more to better develop your own brand.

Hannah Dray, Interim CEO, Lagunitas — Petaluma, California

BREWER: What are the biggest challenges in this position that you are looking forward to taking on and how will it help better Lagunitas going forward?
DRAY: It’s a dynamic time in the industry, especially for craft brewers. We are at a pivotal moment I believe, in beer and all of Lagunitas’ brews are top-notch in quality. As I embark on this role, I am privileged to put my energy and expertise into spearheading a marketing transformation at Lagunitas that will get us back to growth. I’m leaning into three key areas. First, I want to regain the essence of Lagunitas, which means finding our lost mojo and embodying what we’ve been known for so long — being irreverent, edgy, and even rebellious. Second, I’m going to fix some basics in order to win back the point of purchase. This translates to providing better guidance to sales on what SKUs should dominate, ultimately leveraging and gaining a more consistent strategy. The last piece to our transformation is to innovate by digging into the wealth of consumer insights we have access to and combining them with our brewers’ magic.

BREWER: Why did you enter the industry and what makes you love being a part of it and staying in it?
DRAY: I entered the brewing industry over 10 years ago filled with excitement for and inspired by how dynamic and fast-paced it was. Over the course of my career, I’ve enjoyed working on some of the world’s most renowned beer brands from Heineken to Dos Equis to now Lagunitas. Within those roles, I spent time launching innovations that have ranged across beer, seltzer, RTD Cocktails — and more recently with Lagunitas, dipping our toe into spirits with the “Still Waldos” Single Malt Whiskey using our Waldos Triple IPA in partnership with Griffo Distillery. All that to say, I love being a part of this all because it never goes stale. It’s even core to the Lagunitas identity and one of our favorite mottos — always brewing, never boring. And of course, what’s not to love about being able to finish the work day and enjoy one of our tasty brews?!

BREWER: What are some recent trends in marketing to new consumers to the craft beer segment that you are excited about exploring?
DRAY: As a brand that is fortunate to have direct-to-consumer touchpoints, such as our Taproom & Tour experiences, I am really excited to see how we can leverage the role of data within our plans to further improve our communications targeting, making sure we deliver the right message, to the right consumer, at the right time. In addition to this, I look forward to exploring how we can deepen our relationships with these consumers through their interactions with the brand and garner more insights that can be used to inform future marketing plans. 

BREWER: ​What are some changes in the industry that you’ve observed in the past few years, and how has a more mature craft brewery needed to adapt to stay competitive?
DRAY: Overall, I’ve had my eye on the role of innovation — meaning both the rate at which we need to keep up to deliver on the ever-changing consumer needs and how it is blurring the lines between beverage categories. At Lagunitas, we’re fully committed to and driven to innovate because we believe that there’s a seat at the bar for everyone. So that means we’ll continue serving our loyal fans with the brews we know that they love, but also keep brewing something new to bring new friends to the table. All of our brewers have innovation in their DNA and our new innovations lab named Disorderly House of Brewing is the perfect playground for them to come up with new ideas to build on what we’re already doing with consumer-driven products like Hoppy Refresher, Tiki Fusion, and Island Beats. Of course, non-alc continues to see significant growth. Hoppy Refresher is our big focus as it continues to be the No. 1 Hop Water brand with 50% share of the category and over two times the size of the next biggest player. As we stay innovative with our brews and expand on our offerings while staying true to who we are, we’ll stay at the forefront of beverage trends.

Photo credit: Michael Woosley

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