Full stein of beer

What’s Brewing? What Beer Drinkers Behavior in Lockdown Taught Us

As COVID-19s global stranglehold shows signs of retreat, it’s time to lift a glass to humanity. Many consumers have had plenty of practice at it.

As no surprise, beer consumption grew everywhere with everyone in 2020. GlobalWebIndex Data reveals much to learn during this surge of suds for marketers. The Brandon Agency, in partnership with GWI, also garnered insight into this segment.

The findings are intriguing not only for beer consumption but also in related trends.

Analysis of this study can help influence marketing strategy tied to this demographic. It confirms what The Brandon Agency had seen pre-pandemic for consumer packaged goods and how we buy them: The buying journey shifts when consumers can’t as easily make a quick beer run.

And there was a need for beer runs, for sure. According to GWI data, the U.S. led the world in the percentage of beer drinkers who saw their consumption rise during lockdowns (25%). The U.K. (24%) and Brazil (21%) weren’t far behind.

Also, many consumers reported drinking at times they normally wouldn’t. This time, Brazil (20%) led the way, ahead of China (18%) and the U.K. (15%). (The U.S. filled in next, at 13%).

Beer drinkers were also most likely to be ready to resume normal life, as soon as possible.

beer drinker trends for certain brands

That accounts for those loyal to national and global brands. But what about the little guy? What’s brewing in the craft beer and microbrewery world? A lot, and in two distinct directions.

Craft brew’s continuum

You might not have noticed, but the craft beer scene had been a bit wobbly right before the pandemic hit. Most have great local patronage, but growth and distribution challenges hampered many brands. When the very taprooms they depended on for survival had to close doors, many craft breweries kept them closed for good.

According to liquor.com, the damage was significant to some breweries as others shifted to online delivery and drive-up orders. They revved up interest with anticipated can releases. Any way to build community at a time we were told to stay home and off the barstools we’d congregate on for fellowship.

The toll, according to liquor.com:

Pennsylvania: 25 breweries closed

Oregon: 21 breweries closed

Colorado: 20 breweries closed

The pandemic cost the industry about 651,000 jobs in 2020, with a drop in sales by more than $22 billion nationwide.

Some brands found a way to survive in 2020 — and set themselves up to thrive again, in 2021. A diehard contingent of patrons ordered their brew online, boosting the industry — or, at least, giving a flicker of hope.

How can your brand capitalize on what’s brewing?

Cary Murphy is Regional President and CPG category leader at The Brandon Agency. He recommends these steps to capitalize on trends in the market.

1. Focus on your website’s content and UX

It’s not always a top priority for a beer brand but it’s ever more important now to focus on your website – both the UX and content. Help people who want to learn more about your brand. Provide compelling reasons they should consider your brand, and clear, easy-to-access product information.

DO THIS: Look at your user experience from the customer perspective, and think of your website as a digital retail shelf. How are you standing out? What do you want your consumers to know? And how can they buy your product? Let them know where they can find it, or have an online ordering option.

2. Focus on SEO

More beer drinkers start the purchase journey online now than ever. So you must give your brand the best opportunity for discovery during these web searches.

DO THIS: Give your site an SEO audit. This might involve some technical work to make sure you have a solid foundation. Beyond that, check on your site’s schema … that’s a fancy way to say that search engines prefer your code be structured in a certain way, and adhering to these guidelines will not only help your search rank, but it will also improve the way your results are displayed. This may impact location pages, recipe pages, blogs or articles, and FAQs, just to name a few.

3. Sharpen PR and thought leadership

It’s a great time to double down on your public relations efforts. People that love beer may love reading about it as well. Actively engaging with the media can help you be discovered by a whole need audience and you can meet consumers where they’re looking … online. Establish a position of authority in your field by offering your knowledge.

DO THIS: Contribute to blogs and websites your potential clients go to research. Offer yourself as an expert and share information that may be of value to publications on a regular basis. Do you engage with followers on social media? Are customers compelled to engage with your accounts?

4. Targeted online advertising

Organic efforts will pay long-term dividends. For faster results, consider targeted advertising. It gets your message in front of your target consumer quickly. Better yet, segment your audience and provide hyper-relevant advertising to each segment.

DO THIS: Personalize your messages. Are you A/B testing subject lines and images? How well do you know your customers? Detailed demographic profiles and interests will improve your conversions and reduce your costs?

“Beer is very much about shared experiences and being social,” Murphy said. “All this focus on digital and online tactics may not resonate with some beer marketers. This was certainly true before the pandemic. But as we’ve seen with most other CPG categories, the beer consumers are starting their journey online. With thousands of different options to choose from, consumers are hungry — or thirsty? — to discover new beers … and they are doing this research online.”

Partner with The Brandon Agency on your strategy

The Brandon Agency melds data findings with a creative process that highlights a brand’s unique foothold in its niche. Through the pandemic’s swings, The Brandon Agency’s clients have kept campaigns rolling with the strategy that leads to extended growth.

What can we do with you? Contact us today so we can learn where your brand finds itself now — and where you’d like it to be.