​The Ways Lakewood Has Built Back its State-Wide Distribution​ Strategy

Growth is on the docket for Lakewood Brewing. Part of those plans mean reintroducing the Dallas-area brand back to the rest of the state.

“We have the capacity and the infrastructure set up to do that,” said the company’s Vice President and co-founder​, Brenda Busch​. “It also makes it easier and more efficient if we can say, we can offer you statewide programming and statewide marketing for some of the key chains in Texas as well.”

The family-owned brewery will now have expanded distribution in Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Waco, College Station, and other major central Texas cities​ by working with Favorite Brands.

Shelves in stores like HEB, Spec’s, Total Wine & More, Kroger, and Whole Foods will now feature Lakewood’s Temptress – Imperial Milk Stout, Muy Importante – Margarita Lager, and Tangerine Queen – Citrus Wheat, along with seasonal and limited releases like Lakewood’s popular Seduction Series, Watermelon Queen, and the Mechanical Series.

READ MORE: Lakewood Expands Distribution with Favorite Brands

Busch said it has been in ​the plans​ for a while and building big has allowed this growth to happen.

​”​I think for us when we’re going back into a market that we’ve been in before, the nice thing is the markets are already warm to a certain extent​,” she said. “They’d had our beers before. And so with a lot of accounts, they were reaching out to us and ​[asking] when are you guys going to be back in the market? ​So I think that made it easier on both sides to turn those accounts back on and to have fans know that the beer was available again.​”

Busch added they continue to learn every year ​Lakewood has grown as to what’s important to ​the company, and what’s important to ​its distributor partners​.

“I think we’ve always had a balance between year rounds and innovation. But, innovation 10 years ago was a lot of single, large-bottle formats, and you just don’t see much of that anymore,” Busch said. “I think we continue to adapt to changes we’ve seen in consumer behavior. We used to do a lot more bottles than we do now. Now it’s primarily cans.

“We still do the 10% bottles but we’ve transitioned most of the other brands to cans and consumers seem to be good with that whereas before bottles we’re really king.”

It’s always important to have a mix of the year-round and innovation and Busch noted that Lakewood looks to have a brand that is both a ‘go-to’ or a ‘go-wild.’

Along with chain retail, Lakewood looks to extend its reach into specialty shops for smaller releases.

READ MORE: Brew Review: Having Fun, Going Retro in IPA Series

​”We’ve been pretty lucky that most of the distributors we’ve worked with have had a good craft focus,” she said. “The different types of channels and the different types of retailers do have different desires and different customers. Local crowler or growler bars don’t really want the year-round because their customers coming there are really looking for innovation and what’s new and what they can’t get anywhere else.

“So at times, we’ve done draft-only releases that are really targeting just those types of accounts. Stuff that we’re not even packaging. We know that we’ve got something for the consumer and for the account that is looking for something highly specialized and really different.”

Larger chains are looking for innovation as well. But Lakewood will try to schedule that more and have it be predictable.

“That it works for them, for their SKUs, and for their resets, she said. “We do a line extension off of our Temptress brand called the Seduction Series. Those are variations on the Temptress brand. So we’ve got peanut butter, salted caramel, Smores, French ​T​oast, and different variations that change seasonally.

“That’s still a lot of innovation, but it’s within a predictable cadence — and within an established, successful brand. So the larger chains seem to take that and do really well with that as well.”

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