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4  ways to get your Craft Beer noticed

There are more craft breweries operating in the UK than at any time in the last 100 years or so. But with more brew choices for consumers, it may mean it is becoming harder to get a new brewer noticed – and its products drunk. What’s more, with the growing taste for real ale changing the rules of the market, the big beer companies are buying up dozens of small brewers. This has left many craft beer brands with a big question - how can they stand out without selling out? We are looking at some trends which can help you and your business gain new customers, build loyalty - and enhance profitability. 1. Start a brewery club Fan clubs have always attracted enthusiasts, and having club programmes that offer discounts and giveaways can work as well for your microbrewery as it did for rock stars a few decades ago, and it is already a major money earning idea in the wine industry. You can make your membership club enticing to enthusiastic drinkers and an important revenue stream for your business by providing the membership perks to the next level. Give members early access to bottle releases or even discounted tickets to events where you will be present, to make sure it is your stall they are heading to at those thirsty summer open-air festivals! Exclusive events such as invitation-only release parties, and first access to general-public ticket sales or VIP tickets, can also work really well. In the US, members pay yearly subscriptions simply to be members of brewery clubs. In return, they receive different beers in the mail several times a year. Setting up something similar in the UK may be something of a logistical challenge, but it could be worth considering – although you will probably need an outside agency to run your club for you. 2. Support in your community Regional brewers have a cult following. A trip to Suffolk without a pint from Greene King is unthinkable, as is Oxfordshire without a Speckled Hen. Cult favourite craft brewers often forget to maintain their growing brand’s connection with their local roots. Brews and brewery events focused on community help strengthen their connection with fans. Local ingredients, folklore and above all presence, are key to building community support. Large - but still local - brewers like McMullens in Hertford have a long heritage in the local area, which they support with a presence at events, and a traditional horse dray. As a microbrewer, you may not have the resources to keep a team, but you could ensure that a vehicle with your livery was present at every local event. If you run a local brewery, you can also deepen your community connection by partnering with other local organisations for events. A mobile beer bar can be ideal - having an older commercial vehicle with character can send a message about the heritage of your wares, and help ensure that you are certain to be the first point of call for refreshments at fetes and other events. You may need to make a charitable contribution, but you can expect to sell ale and gain valuable returning customers for your wares. It can also help to ensure that your brew is asked for in local pubs and retailers. A small event that makes a little money and showcases your beer in top condition and properly served can pay a dividend in increased sales for weeks, months and even years afterwards. Are you looking to grow your presence in the craft beer market and reach more people with your produce? Do you need additional capital to support additional equipment or marketing? Find out more about the funding options available for microbreweries   3. Giving back Many younger drinkers - including the all-important millennials - believe that it is important that the brands they support give back to society instead of just making a profit. As a brewer in the craft beer industry, this could be as simple as donating a portion of proceeds to a local charity – and being seen to do so. But there are many options for more thorough partnerships with local causes – helping support the previous point. Sponsoring clean-up days, participating in fundraisers, and being on-hand to provide refreshment whenever an opportunity arises is simply good business sense. Your aim with any beer event is to help people have a good time while elevating your own brand and presence. Becoming a pillar of the community is exactly the sort of giving back that your core target market wants to see. 4. Going alcohol-free Alcohol-free beer can seem like a contradiction – but it can make very good sense to ensure that you offer an alcohol-free version alongside your more traditional brews. Those who already know your beer – but who are driving – will appreciate the chance to enjoy your wares, and those not old enough to enjoy the real thing can enjoy the sophistication of drinking something other than fizzy pop. Brand loyalty is an important value in the modern world, and going alcohol-free can help you introduce your brand and your brew to may potential customers who might otherwise not be able to partake. What will it all cost? Of course, all these ideas will have some costs attached. Setting up a loyalty club will mean some investment, and if you have to call in the skills of a marketing agency to ensure everything runs smoothly while you get on with the serious business of brewing, so be it. Having a presence at community events will mean costs for a stall at the very least, and you probably can't expect staff to give up evenings and weekends without payment. If you have to run an old vehicle for events and displays there will be capital costs, and if you are not currently producing an alcohol-free brew, you may need to invest in another production line to do so. You need to look carefully at the costs, and how you will cover them. The funding you need for your microbrewery business At Rangewell, we can help you and your brewery business find the finance required for all types of business costs, whether they are to do with the basics of affording production equipment, or the finer points of promotional activity. Whatever the size of your brewery - and however exciting your plans - at Rangewell, we can provide the scale of funding you need. Simply call us to find out more.

Money back on the bottle?

We are all becoming more aware of the need to recycle to conserve energy and finite resources and to protect the environment. We might expect solutions based on new technology – but one of the solutions that we may need to adopt might be familiar to our grandparents' generation. The deposit on a bottle may be making a comeback The government has announced plans for a deposit return scheme, primarily to crack down on plastic pollution – but it will cover not just plastics, but all single-use drinks containers whether plastic, glass or metal. So if you are bottling beer, you and your brewery will be affected. You may not be required to wash and reuse glass bottles – although that would in fact be perfectly possible, and could even be a future proposal. But in practice, materials are more likely to be recycled, rather than reused. But you will be required to participate, and that will almost certainly mean additional costs. Of course, the proposal is still at the discussion stage – but with Scotland already moving ahead with its own Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) planned for 2021, the one planned for England, Wales and Northern Ireland (expected in 2023) will probably be based on the learnings it generates. Most small breweries are already sustainable and brewers are conscious of their environmental impact. From water recapture, reed bed technology, thinner glass bottles and better use of spent grain, our craft brewers have set the pace for other industries. But when we look at the impact plastic in particular and single-use packaging in general has on the environment, it is hard to disagree with the argument that more needs to be done – especially as recycling rates are not as high as they could be or even as high as they are in other European countries. The government’s proposals are ambitious and intended to introduce measures through a deposit return scheme, boosting recycling and extending producer responsibility, that will fundamentally change the way we all produce and consume products. It is a long way from the throwaway ethos of the past few decades, but the basic principle is sound, and will probably involve handing over a deposit for each plastic and glass bottle and every can. These will then be returned to the shop for recycling – with the deposit returned to the customer. Similar schemes already operate in 38 countries around the world, and campaigners have worked for a decade for its introduction in the UK.  Fees can vary depending on the size of the bottle or can and in most cases, recycling is based around “reverse vending machines”  to automate the return, rather than attempt to involve busy shop staff. However, once returned, retailers become responsible for recycling the containers. It seems to work. Deposit return schemes (DRS) have increased recycling rates to more than 90% in some countries.  At present fewer than 45% of the 13billion or so plastic bottles sold each year in the UK are recycled, and 700,000 add to the litter mountain every day. In Germany, a DRS was introduced in 2003 and 99% of plastic bottles are now recycled. The figure for glass bottles may be similarly dramatic It may have gone out of fashion, but it is a process that is proven to work in the UK, albeit many years ago. It might be familiar to anyone old enough to remember the 1960s, when it was the consumer society and the introduction of no deposit no return bottles that was the novelty, and taking the bottles back to the shop was a routine part of everyday life. However the world, and particularly retailers, have moved on, and reintroducing such a scheme is much more complex than simply finding a supply of crates and setting up a depot or two. In fact, the changes required from businesses and consumers are substantial, and brewers will be particularly affected. Under the Scottish proposals to fund the scheme, bottlers will have to pay registration fees of hundreds of pounds and producer fees which vary by container and could be between 1.5p-5p per can and bottle. In addition, the only way to comply with the scheme is to have a new label on each container sold. This will be essential to be accepted by Reverse Vending Machines which are now seen as central to the scheme. There are simply not enough old-style corner shops to handle the deposits. In Germany, supermarkets seem to be eager to participate - but often with recycling machines that only offer tokens to be spent in-store rather than returning cash. What will this mean to your business? The logic behind the scheme may be hard to disagree with, but it looks as though it will mean some extra costs which will have to be borne by the small brewer. So what can you do if you need help with those costs?  Simply call us at Rangewell. We work closely with our clients to understand their needs before we recommend a particular type of finance -  it means we can help you find the funding you need - and pay less for it - whatever the business purpose. We can offer solutions to fund the equipment you need, to help you buy premises, deal with tax bills and more. So if money back on the bottle will mean money out of your pocket, call our business funding experts.  Our service - and their business finance expertise - is absolutely free.

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