(2016 Update: What Craft Beer Slow down? – 8 Ways Breweries Can Remain Competitive)

With US Craft volume share increasing by 5.68% in 2011, the pie is growing but so are the number of forks. In fact, the number of “forks” are growing 3 times the rate of the “pie”. The number of operating breweries is due to increase as this industry continues to prove its fruitfulness.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • How long will the market prove to be fruitful for all?
  • How many craft breweries can the US market support?
  • When will “the bubble” burst?
  • How will you remain competitive

There are signs that the craft beer industry is not yet starting to peak while “the pie” continues to grow. In 2011 there were 37 total craft breweries that closed, down from 62 in 2010. However, with the increase rate of new operating breweries and “breweries-in-planning”, every brewery owner should consider preparing themselves to be and remain competitive.

Here are 4 ways that craft breweries can remain competitive:

1. Quality ingredients, quality beer

Bruno the brewer running out of ingredients


The primary goal in any brewery is to focus on making high quality beer. Quality beer is critical factor of success. Since there has been an adopted consumer base of beer drinkers converting to craft, it has been an easy decision for consumers to try any type of non-domestic beer, which has been beneficial for the entire craft beer industry.

As consumers are introduced to more craft beer options, they will become more educated about their craft choices, which allows for the opportunity of consumer loyalty. With beer connoisseurs becoming more educated about quality, the most important thing that craft breweries can do is continue to make quality beer to remain competitive. As the selection of craft beer choices increases, low quality craft beer will be the first to become extinct. The one thing you should never skimp on is ingredients. Quality ingredients are one of the most important factors that separate a craft microbrew from its mass produced “macrobrew” counterpart.

2. Manage Recipes – Maintain consistency

Manage brewery production schedules

Focus on consistency. The consumer may find risk associated with your beer if the experience is not the same every time. Risk can lead to consumers turning to a competitor who can give them a similar “experience” even if the experience is not as good. Maintaining consistency has been the key to every successful business. You can look at any successful product, brand, or franchise and see that the key success factor was providing a consistent experience for the consumer.

3. Plan Ahead – Don’t run out of beer

Bill - Running out of beer


Make sure you plan ahead, keep up with demands and don’t run out of beer. Gaining consumer loyalty can be a long process, but it only takes one bad experience or one missed opportunity to destroy that trust. If your loyal consumers are not able to get their favorite beer, they will accept a substitute which results in your loss and another’s gain.

Although consumers prefer to try new beers, which presents an opportunity for new offerings,  it can be a disadvantage if you aren’t able to keep up with demands. Breweries can prevent missed opportunities by ensuring that their flagship beer is readily available in their most loyal markets. Running out of beer for even short periods of time can contribute to your loss and a competitor’s gain. Consumers are loyal in nature, but it doesn’t mean that they will be loyal to your beer forever.

4. Manage Your Growth

Penny - Cash flow projections


Lastly, you should manage your brewery’s growth effectively. The most common reason the previous three points are compromised is the inability to manage growth. As craft breweries grow it becomes harder to produce consistent, quality, differentiated beer that satisfies demand. Managing growth and the complexities that accompany it can ensure consumer retention and help your brewery remain competitive. Managing growth is not easy and requires operational expertise and systemized procedures. Your competitive edge may be at risk if this is done organically through individuals, pieced systems or by the seat of our pants.

“One brewery, one software”
In order to accomplish these goals you’re going to need some help;  the kind of help that spreadsheets and bookkeeping software can’t provide in the long-run. (read why )Accomplishing these goals won’t be easy or guarantee your success, but they’ll provide a strong advantage over the competition and help you stay on top. You need robust brewery management software that provides everything you need to manage all aspects of your brewery from a centralized place. You need to adopt a brewery software solution, streamline your processes, eliminate inefficiencies, and focus solely on what you do best: brewing great beer.

Choose Your Story:

Each of these steps looks different depending on your perspective. That’s why we’ve created a new set of brewery personas to help you identify the problems and solutions from your perspective.

OBeer Personas