Social media has become a global “thing” we all do in one way or the other writing and following blogs, looking at Facebook, setting up networks on LinkedIn etc. The number of people using these tools across the world are just staggering and yet very few British exporters seem to be using social media to inform and engage with opinion-formers across the world.
Brewdog – from near bankruptcy to award winning exporter
However, one very successful story is Brewdog, a small Scottish micro brewery took on the world using social media channels and grew their sales in 15 countries. You might be thinking “Brew Dog, the company who was criticised for launching Britain’s strongest beer” Yes, you are right – but to complement the Tokyo beer you now have the new “Nanny State”, which is a mild Imperial ale containing more hops per barrel than any other beer brewed in Britain, so mild it is not subject to beer duty. In all, a company with a clear mission and strategy “Brew Dog creates bold, dramatic, flavoursome beers for every taste, anywhere and for any occasion.”
The business was not growing at the home soil and the business was on the brink of bankruptcy only six months in and the innovative team reached out to the professional world of “Beer” bloggers to spread the word across the world. Interest was raised across borders, from the US to Japan and samples were sent to support the creative messages. The result was extraordinary and resulted in listings in 15 countries and a “Beer Cult” was born. In less than 18 months with a marketing budget of zero, Brewdog is now the largest independent brewery in Scotland.
Alongside a website and blogs, a video was produced and published on the net to really engage with the beer drinkers. Brewdog’s YouTube Channel has had more than 180,000 views.
They filmed the staff discussing and disagreeing about the virtues of different beer and let people vote on how it would taste – they called it “Beer Rocks”. By letting people vote on the products it made the customers feel special and added personal ownership as they had contributed to the perfect beer. The end result, Brew Dog developed and designed the first ever democratically beer. This promotion worked well and the personal touch clearly sat the company apart in the crowded beer world.
To complement all the activities what more appropriate but to feature the original Brew dog – Bracken, the tree year old chocolate lab. Known for his love for biscuits and a high five, not forgetting being head taster, accountant and general buddy, Bracken is now on Twitter informing his 1,500 followers of his thought and activities, including seaweed sniffing on Sundays!
BrewDog’s video blogs have been watched by 250,000 people. “Think about how much we would have had to spend to reach 250,000 people?” asks Watt. Ninety per cent of sales come from social media and the blog gets 12,000 unique visits every day. BrewDog beer is now sold in Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, which would not have happened, says Watt, if not for blogging and social media.
In 2007, BrewDog wanted to export but had no budget or experience in exporting beer. So they identified the markets they wanted to break into – Scandinavia, North America – and looked for the key influencers, the main beer bloggers, and sent them a case of samples.
“Bloggers were delighted, and they wrote about us,” says Watt. “So when we approached the importers we were able to demonstrate an interest, we had done their marketing for them, shown demand already. And it only cost us the price of the cases of beer.”
Brewdog’s biggest overseas markets are Scandinavia and USA which is hardly surprising that these regions have a fast growing real ale sector in rebellion against the massive lager brewers such as Budweisers and Carlsberg;
All the communication at Brew Dog reflects and integrates the innovative brand and gives it a personal and vibrant feel, of course all the recent awards helps as well.
It is different, bold and creative. It delivers a clear and consistent passionate message across borders and cultures all linked with a common passion for quality beer.
So if you want to reach potential customers but don’t know where to start? Fancy doing some market research that reaches wider and has better results than the poxy “complete this survey and win a pen” approach? Or are you planning to engage with foreign markets, set up distribution channels and export your product? Then you need to engage with your consumers using social media.