Top 3 Takeaways from Brewbound San Diego 2016

Brewbound SessionsLast week on Thursday, December 1st, Brewbound held their annual Brewbound Sessions event an the beautiful Paradise Point Resort & Spa in San Diego, California. VicinityBrew Software was proud to be able to attend this event and had a great time. These are our top three takeaways from Brewbound Sessions San Diego.

1. Understanding Industries Outside of Craft Beer

Reviewing the landscape of related markets and recognizing the impact or opportunity.

During, “Strategies for Expanding Beyond Beer,” Panelist shared their experience straddling multiple markets, embracing both their struggle and strategy.
“As long as it breaks even economically, it is a great advertisement of the Rogue brand,” said Brett Joyce, President of Rogue Ales & Spirits in describing their efforts in the spirits industry.

The session detailed what it takes to branch your brewing business off into other industries, such as spirits, cider and hard soda. Panelists included Joel Vandenbrink, the founder of Two Beer Brewing and Seattle Cider Company; Brett Joyce, the president of Rogue Ales & Spirits and Alva Mather, an attorney and the chair of Pepper Hamilton’s alcohol beverage practice. The group discussed considerations anyone should take if looking to enter other craft markets, including: investment, corporate structure, regulatory, branding, marketing, distribution and retail. Thou related markets may seem like a natural transition, panelist stressed the importance of having a clear understanding of new market opportunities, particularly the different challenges you may face, and the need to have the passion and dedication to carry your business through the new venture.

Brewbound also reviewed the importance of understanding how related markets can impact craft beer. Such as the evolving marijuana segment and the evidence of consumer demand reflected in ballot votes to approve recreational marijuana use statewide.

Vivien Azer discussed how a growing marijuana economy could impact companies in the alcohol sector. Azer is Cowen and Company’s managing director and senior research analyst specializing in the beverage, tobacco and cannabis sectors. Azer recently compiled a 110 page report on the cannabis industry and, at the Brewbound Session, she shared her team’s findings while taking a deep dive into the interaction between alcohol and marijuana.

Main Brewbound Findings: Do not underestimate the differences in similar markets, because those differences can create new business challenges. If you are looking to break out into other markets, pay attention to the new processes your brand may encounter. Also Be aware of developing markets that could directly impact your consumer base.

Brewbound Marijunana EconomyIn regards to exploring the impact of cannabis on the craft beer industry, we learned that with the recent election, a total of 8 states now have legalized marijuana for recreational use. This means that roughly 60% of the United States population lives in a place where you can legally use cannabis, either medicinally or recreationally.

2. Growing and Expanding Your Brewery’s Brand

Afternoon Brewbound sessions highlighted growing and expanding your brewery’s brand, where Pabst Brewing Company chairman Eugene Kaspher sat down with Brewbound editor Chris Furnari to discuss Pabst’s partnership strategy, the company’s industry outlook, and the recent hiring of Simon Thorpe as its new CEO.

In “The Art of Balancing Multiple Brand Identities” session, we heard from Tomme Arthur, co-founder of The Lost Abbey, Port Brewing and the Hop Concept. He discussed what it’s like balance multiple brand identities. Over the years, Tomme has demonstrated an ability to respond to consumer demands with a variety of well-differentiated brand personalities. Through that process, he’s learned what’s required to manage a portfolio of multiple individual identities, and how that approach changes how his company operates.

Main Takeway: It is important to properly allocate your brewery’s resources in order to grow and expand your brewery’s brand, Pabst Brewing Company is doing with their joint-venture strategy. However, as Tomme Arthur points out, it is just as important to note the difficulties that bringing on more than one focus brand will bring to your brewery, which is why Pabst Brewing chose a partnership strategy rather than purchasing other brands, or creating new brands themselves.

“We want partners who can hold and create the magic and excitement for their brands, so that they can be the leader in the market,” said Eugene Kashper of Pabst Brewing Company, on using a non-ownership, partnership strategy.

3. The State of the Craft Beer Industry

Lester Jones, the NBWA’s Chief Economist, and Bart Watson, the Brewers Association’s Chief Economist, discussed the latest category trends and the growth of taproom sales. They also identified where new growth opportunities will exist as mature markets get more saturated and explain how brewers should consider navigating a rapidly changing landscape.

Main Brewbound Findings: There was a strong conclusion made by both presenters to not make premature conclusions on incomplete data… but also that in the maturing craft market there are still ample opportunities.

“The first challenge of slowing growth is to accept there is slowing growth, but even flat markets still have growth,” said Watson. “Parts of the market are going down while other parts of the market are going up. IPAs are still flying, but seasonals have had a very, very tough year.”

It is important not to be swayed negatively by a flat market, because even those markets are still experiencing growth within the beer space. Interesting market opportunities are still readily available when you analyze the data. For example, women’s beer preferences correlated directly with the styles of beer that have experienced growth over other styles. Using market trends like this could help shape your product line up.

Brewbound VicinityBrewWe at VicinityBrew Software are proud to have sponsored and attended this great, annual event. We hope to see everyone there next year!

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