The Role Customers Play In Product Development

Knowing what your customers want to buy certainly plays a role in what beers you release. 

Tap the brakes before taking too much stock of customer input, though, Mother Earth Brewing Company Director of Marketing Kamron Khannakhjavani said.

“I don’t think you can ever get the “whole picture” from customer input,” he said. “We let sales drive innovation because numbers don’t lie. Certainly it’s important to listen to your customer base, but typically those who provide input are the vocal minority and don’t necessarily represent the average consumer, who is really whom we are targeting.”

Khannakhjavani said gathering customer feedback was a two-part process.

“It occurs on the front end, listening to what folks are asking for and filtering that feedback through a lens to make sure it’s valid and achievable, and then on the backend using feedback to validate your initial assumptions.”

He said it was a constantly evolving process that you have to approach carefully.

“At some point in beer history, 100 people shouted they wanted a glitter IPA, and we all know how that ended up,” he said.

Customer input is a necessary element, said Pike Brewing head brewer Leslie Shore, who noted that taproom traffic plays a role in customer feedback. While they don’t play a direct role in determining what beers are created, they use technology to indirectly communicate which beers may be worth keeping.

“At our Ballard Taproom, we have a pilot tap for folks to try some of the more outré offerings, [and] we also provide a QR code on the tabletalkers, which allows guests to access a simple yet defined sensory evaluation,” Shore said. “From there, we’re able to aggregate the data against our internal sensory on that product, and take it from there — either full-scale for a seasonal or a one-off with wide distro, or scrap altogether. 

“Our seasonal releases are planned over a year out, which also allows the opportunity to brew another pilot batch to nail the sensory and style expectation.”

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