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So you’ve made your own craft beer and want to start selling it around the country and possibly around the world. Where to begin? It should be straightforward but the food and beverage industry is unlike any other. You are in the business of satisfying the senses, giving customers a truly unique experience and becoming a part of memories. Unfortunately it's not quite so simple and you do need to go about things in certain ways. For example, your product is not something that can be judged purely on a sample, you need to have it tested by experts. A boardroom of marketing executives need to know what exactly your craft beer tastes like before they can create an image to sell. Brand development takes time because you are a niche company, perhaps not that many people have heard of you. Essentially, the good word spreads through word of mouth. It has to be in your hand for you to experience it, it's not going to be consumed online or as part of everyday life. This is how you should go about distributing your product.



Know your market

Different grocery stores have different kinds of customers. For example if you were going to a cheaper store then perhaps you wouldn’t find more of the expensive wines, beers and spirits. The store might not even stock them because they think the inventory would be wasted. On the other hand, if you’re a more high end store then would it fit your brand to stock your shelves with cheap stuff? As a craft beer company you should be aware of the kind of market you’re selling to. This obviously is indicated by the pricing of your alcoholic beverage. However the image of your product is also very important for distributors. They might not want certain words on the label, the might not want certain colors for the design, the might want a certain price threshold for initial test run sales.

So how do you swoon your way into the correct market distributor? First off you need to be willing to travel to their headquarters to meet face to face. You might also be requested to send them some of your product so they can taste test it, evaluate the product in their hands and see what kind of marketing angle would be suitable for their brand to sell your product. However you should personally make the case for why your product would fit their company outlook. Talk about the kind of customers that you feel would most likely buy your product. Are they specifically into craft beer or would they be general beer consumers? Why choose this company over others and to that end, would you be willing to offer them an exclusivity deal?


A part of the experience

What many craft beer small businesses are doing now is looking further afield. Why compete with domestic brands when you can export your product? Many businesses have done this because they need to establish a foothold first from which they can keep receive stable income. It's also now better than ever to go do business abroad as there are so many small business services that are offered by the export industry. Storing, packing, shipping and transporting can be done by a number of companies or just one if that’s what you want.

But where should your export journey begin? Well you can offer exclusive deals to travel agencies, hotels, cafes, restaurants and other fields that are to do with the hospitality industry. Tourists want a unique experience especially when it comes to their food and drink. So although it might seem like a strange niche entry into the market, you can establish a good reputation with holiday goers and travellers by being part of their experience. They are having a great time lounging, on leisure trips and or perhaps enjoying an intimate honeymoon. Your craft beer being part of their enjoyment is a great way to get your foot in the door. So look to work closely with these kinds of entities such as hotels, bars, cafes and restaurants so your beverage is one of their offerings to customers.

The issue of degenerative quality

Beer has yeast and hops in it so it's alive. This means that there is a challenge to keep the product the same quality as it is when it leaves the brewery. For many people who are trying to transport their craft beer, plastic kegs are often used as they think that they are the only form of one way keg. However you can also use stainless steel one way kegs and you should be if you don’t want the taste of your beer altered. Plastics are treated with chemicals and this overtime can change the quality and taste of the beer. Imagine all your hard work being ruined while your beer is in the middle of being transported without anyone laying a finger on it. That’s what plastic kegs can do while stainless steel kegs won’t have this affect.

It's also a better option because they’re thicker and denser too. In the heat and then the cold, plastic expands and contracts a lot more than metal. If your product is being transported thousands of miles, the last thing you want is the ambient temperature to have an impact on the taste of your beer. So using metal kegs all the way from your brewery to the tap is the more common sense solution. They might be a little more expensive but your beer will arrive in a much better state for the customer to enjoy than in plastic kegs.

Craft beer is one of the hottest craft beverage styles on the market right now. Beer is something everyone can enjoy as it doesn’t take a connoisseur to appreciate. Speak to the travel and hospitality industry to see if your craft beer can be distributed with their partners abroad. This is a great way to begin exporting your product. However work with domestic distributors as well and given them a detailed presentation on why their customers would enjoy your product.