The explosion of craft brewing in America has been fantastic for beer lovers. However, as more and more players enter the game and expand into retail distribution, breweries of all sizes face some big challenges.
How do you win and keep shelf space? How can you make your brand of beer stand out from the crowd? How do you remain relevant in a market where consumers are always looking to try the next new thing?
Craft brewers have a reputation for using unique labels that add to the beer drinking experience. From quirky names and whimsical graphic design to memorable copywriting that describes the beer and the brewery, many craft brewers understand how the story told with packaging leads to better sales and improved brand awareness.
Yet, if you want packaging ideas that give you a competitive edge, you need to go beyond a creative label. Here’s some advice for breweries aiming for success in a retail setting.
Earning a Spot in the Cooler (and Keeping it)
Space in the beer cooler is a coveted retail location for any craft brewery. Most beer drinkers want to take home a cold product that’s ready to drink. So, beer stocked on the “warm floor” may get overlooked.
Of course, the problem is that there’s limited space in those coolers, and new products keep emerging.
Primarily, retailers are going to stock the cooler with beer that sells. Sometimes, that means featuring six-packs of an interesting new flavor, but it also means saving space for popular best-sellers, including the standard domestic offerings and well-known imports.
An article on craft beer packaging featured in The Growler magazine
makes some important observations about picking the right strategy. For example, you should be considering the “view from the cooler.”
That means accounting for the one-inch lip at the bottom of the shelf. It also requires careful consideration of what’s displayed on the short side of your package as opposed to the broad side. Six-pack carriers and boxes are often stocked with the short side facing outward, as this allows a store to showcase a wider variety of beer in the cooler.
Retailers may not care about how your packaging looks on the shelf, but if it persuades consumers to buy it, you’ll maintain that desirable location where the beer is always cold.
The Retail-Ready Advantage
Breweries will gain favor with stores in their distribution chain by placing an emphasis on retail-ready packaging. If it’s simple to stock six-packs because they come packaged in a tray that slides onto shelves with a box top that rips off, you’ll be making the retailer’s job easier.
Since the convenience of retail-ready packaging means it’s easy to open and shelf, you’ll be saving the store time and money. That could mean managers place a priority on shelving and restocking your product quickly and in a prominent spot.
Reducing headaches for the retailer can also come into play when choosing the size of beer packaging. Some craft brewers are differentiating themselves by using less-common types of cans and bottles, such as 22 oz. bombers or taller 16 oz. cans. However, could a decision like this negatively impact placement?
In a situation where every inch of space counts, choosing to use slightly wider bottles, longnecks, or any sort of packaging that falls outside the norm may create shelving frustrations for the retailer.
According to the Brewers Association
, while cans are growing in popularity, bottles still dominate craft beer packaging. And, 12 oz. bottles in six and 12-packs made up 92 percent of sales for craft brews in 2016.
Standing Out on the Floor with Retail Displays
While the beer cooler is an ideal place for your product, don’t underestimate the potential for grabbing the consumer’s attention on the floor of the store.
Eye-catching endcaps, in-store signage, and uniquely constructed retail displays are excellent strategies for increasing awareness and setting your brand apart from competitors. There are certain limitations inside the cooler that you won’t find with retail displays, which allow for plenty of creativity.
Retail displays can be designed around seasonal events, (sports, summer vacation, St. Patrick’s Day, etc.). Or, displays can be used to reinforce the brand image a brewery wants to portray. Consider how Leinenkugel’s often uses the lodge motif or canoes and paddles in its retail displays. Signs and displays will add to the story craft brewers tell about their product just like labels do.
Retail displays can be permanent or temporary, but it’s always best practice to provide stores with displays that are easy to set up, easy to store, and easy to dispose of when no longer needed.
Innovative Craft Beer Packaging Solutions from Menasha
At Menasha, we provide everything brewers need to package their products after it’s in bottles and cans. Our versatile printing capabilities
and design experience allow us to create effective retail packaging solutions
that make your brand of beer attractive to shoppers and preferred by retailers.
As a pioneer in corrugated and paperboard packaging, we can help with everything from structurally sound displays and retail-ready packaging to six-pack carriers and shipping solutions. Plus, we also give our clients valuable professional insights and advice for succeeding in a retail setting.
Look for Menasha at the upcoming Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America
in Washington, D.C. this April. We’ll be available to discuss ideas, and we’ll have samples of retail displays, packaging, and six-pack carriers for beer that visitors can check out. Find us at Booth #1858
, or contact us