Thinking Like the Customer in Your Taproom

Jason Brewer outed himself as a ‘beer nerd.’ The reason is that he knows what he likes, but more importantly, he knows what similar types of consumers like him likes as well. Adjusting that thought process can prove worthwhile for a brand.

The General Manager for Listermann Brewing in Cincinnati, Brewer said that the 12-year-old facility is an ‘ever-evolving’ taproom and matching the experience is vital for its success.

“Treat your customers how you — and really, more importantly, they — like to be treated,” he told a group during a seminar at the Ohio Craft Brewers Association‘s annual conference. “How they like to be treated … it’s all about their customer experience.

“I like to create the things that I like, but also take the things that they like, and really make it about them.”

​Although simple, Brewer pointed out that three keys help Listermann achieve those goals: Standing behind your product; Find gaps and fill them; and Staying true to yourself while getting people what they want.​

​Brewer said for a bartender​ to not be afraid of dumping a beer that a consumer didn’t like and getting them something else.

​”You want them to enjoy your product as much as you do, so get something in their hands that they’re going to like,” he said.

Filling a portfolio gap may seem like bending to the will of the consumers versus staying true to your brand. Brewer pointed out that years ago, New England IPAs were the niche, now they are the norm. Finding your brewery in that space, but still being true to brand is possible.

“Maybe that means using Fuggle hops in a New England IPA,” he gave as an example. “That’s what you want to do? That’s cool. And I think your customers will really see that you’re listening to them, and really appreciate going out of their way for them.”

As competition not just on shelves, but now with the number of taprooms a consumer can visit, continues to heat up, listening to consumers and giving them a reason to spend time at your place is important.

“In Cincinnati, there are 60 other breweries these customers can go to​,” he said. “​You gotta listen to that and fill those gaps so that people choose to spend time at your place versus the X amount of other breweries they have the option to.​”​

​One way that Listermann works at catering to the hardcore fan is through communication of its limited beer releases. Social media is a way to help drive that leading up to and the day of.

“They know well advance when it’s coming out, they always know how much we have left​ … ​and they don’t feel like they have to waste a trip in​ [if we are out,] he said. “Just always over-communicate with them as much as possible.​”

And thinking about the consumer, Listermann noticed a problem, especially on winter morning releases that people would line up in the freezing cold.​ So the brewery added outdoor heaters for the line.

“It’s how to make a better experience for them, show them that we care and appreciate them so they can come into our taproom and spend money and feel appreciated instead of it just being a transactional-type of affair,” Brewer said. “So we started putting heaters out for customers at 2-3 in the morning and that really took off really well with customers and got more people showing up because they knew that we would go out of our way to take care of them.”

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