Think Outside the Industry: How Craft Beer Is Winning the Marketing Game

Many craft breweries face ample competition and small marketing budgets (sound at all familiar?), but with a bit of ingenuity and a dedication to embracing their local communities, they’ve been able to thrive — and give some of the big breweries a run for their money.’s Abe Sauer recently looked at the marketing strategies of craft beer and how they compare to big-name beer’s efforts. A few interesting findings:

“With a 402-foot bar and 40 taps, Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery Street Pub is going city to city as ‘the ultimate craft-beer block party.’ It will travel to Colorado, California and Minnesota and at each location, it will partner with a local charity that will receive all proceeds. The event is the perfect example of how craft beer is not just winning the tastebuds of consumers but also the hearts and minds. It’s local, differentiated, laid back and not trying too hard. It is unique to each market and makes the brand a part of the local culture.

Compare Deschutes’ block party to Bud Light’s recent ‘Up for Whatever’ campaign. Bud’s national promo was flashy, striving and bombastic. It literally took an American city and stripped the local out of it — renaming Crested Butte, Colorado, to Whatever, USA — and supplanted it with Budweiser’s brand of fun. It was the antithesis of localization, which is one major reason for the shift away from beers like Bud to craft beers …

… What all of these promotions demonstrate is the strength of craft breweries to tap into and partner with local brands, culture and phenomena. This nimble ability for craft brands to leverage small, local promotions allows intimate connection with consumers increasingly interested in the unique characteristics of local products, the very kryptonite of conglomerate beer brands bottled miles away and headquartered even further away.”

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