Asia Brewers Network

Weatherproofing Your Marketing Strategy For 2021


As COVID’s painful impact arches up globally once more, brands and organisations are entering uncharted territory when it comes to marketing strategy.

Arthur Sadoun, one of the world’s most powerful advertising executives, accurately commented that for marketers, the “first quarter of 2021 is basically the fifth quarter of 2020”.

The first wave of COVID saw a range of new tactics deployed by savvy business owners: bottling draft beer, conversational commerce, virtual taprooms, and much more.

Some of these responses have endured, while others proved too difficult to maintain with start-stop lockdowns, team reductions and customer’s wallets shrinking.

After a year of observing brands that have successfully navigated the pandemic, it is becoming more apparent that some tried-and-true marketing strategies – reskinned for the technological and consumer realities of 2021 – work better than others.

This piece provides three instigations to make your marketing more effective. Whether you’re a CEO or a marketing executive, the time is right to weatherproof your strategy.

Audit Your Q1 Marketing Activities

Conducting a quarterly stock-take on marketing activities is best practice in larger consumer-focused organisations to ensure they’re making the right decisions and investments.

Adopting the discipline of such a structured approach will help your beer business, too, particularly if you’re trying to find efficiencies in your budgets.

There are many audit templates you can find online. But the core should be a long, hard look at how your marketing campaigns, social media content, website, delivery and online sales channels have all performed.

You should also be making a solid attempt to attributing your marketing performance to sales, use data from your website, ad campaigns and social media, then overlay that with sales data.

It isn’t perfect, but it will help you better attribute advertising’s impact to your bottom line.

The audit also gives you a chance to review your creative and copywriting used in your brand’s communications. If this seems trivial at this busy juncture in your organisation’s life, the fate of New Zealand’s Moa Brewing Company is an instructive case study.

Pro-Tips For a Successful Marketing Audit

  • Focus on metrics that matter by platform. When you’re auditing content performance on Facebook, observe Organic Reach and Engagement Rate per post. If you’re looking at website performance, focus on metrics like Sessions and Conversions.
  • Ensure you compare data from all platforms for the quarter: factor in Grab, delivery apps, search engines (not just Google), review platforms (TripAdvisor, Burpple, Foody, Zomato, Foursquare, etc.).
  • While Excel Spreadsheets are great for collecting data and analysis, distil critical insights that you find into a short presentation or one-page document. This will create more discipline around identifying trends and learning what you need to focus on in the coming quarters.

Build A Long Term Direct-To-Consumer Strategy

We had previously written on how brewers around the region are pivoting their business plans and marketing strategies to win in D2C.

A first-class mobile ordering experience is now an essential part of any beverage or food business in Asia.

The days of made-for-desktop websites are gone, and with the explosion of apps that deliver hot food and cold beer quickly to people’s doorstep, consumer expectations have skyrocketed.

grabfood delivery beer

Grab’s move toward IPO has shown their dramatic regional growth in food and grocery delivery, which is eclipsing their previous core of mobility.

To win with customers in the new landscape, you need a robust strategy that factors in platforms you own and platforms you rent.

In the former camp falls your website, mobile app, and online shop. These ‘owned’ experiences are critical to invest in precisely because you can manage long-term costs and manage both margins and customer experience.

In the latter domain are platforms like Grab, Facebook, GoJek, WhatsApp, and many other local options.

You need to map out your strategy: what do you want to invest in and own, and where do you rent?

Ignore super apps all you want, but a presence on Grab – like G oJek in Indonesia – is now an absolute necessity in Southeast Asia.

Why pass up the opportunity of millions of new potential customers? Consider these platforms the ‘tip of the spear’ for customer acquisition and branding – not just delivery sales.

Social media and messaging apps are also critical to engage professionally.

Suppose you aren’t using conversational commerce (think talking with your customers and allowing deliveries through Messenger and WhatsApp).

In that case, you’re missing out on a market worth over 10 billion USD in ASEAN alone.

You can’t take on everything, but you do need to map out how the jigsaw puzzle of D2C activities all fit together into a strategy that maximises revenue and new customer acquisition. Here are a few thought-starters to get you thinking.

  • If you’re afraid of joining popular food and delivery apps in your market because of the impact on your margins, consider a limited listing of your higher value products to at least maintain some visibility.
  • Do you have a dedicated person managing your social media channels? Are they deeply immersed in your brand and talk with deep, evident passion about your range of beer and food?
  • Do people love your owned delivery experience from end-to-end? What customer experience points could be improved, e.g. do your delivery drivers warmly greet customers and give a final ‘love mark’ to the experience?
  • Is your delivery packaging ‘Instagrammable’ (i.e. would look great when photographed by a smartphone and shared online)?

Engage Your Local Beer Communities

Professor Byron Sharp, one of the world’s leading marketing thinkers, argues that brands should target all consumers in a category – not just a narrow ‘persona’ or ‘target audience’.

If you’re a brewery, you should sell beer to people who drink. If you’re a bar, you shouldn’t just market your products to regulars.

This is why you should market and engage within communities that explicitly target drinkers.

We’ve written before on the unrealised potential of Untappd in Asia. Since then, one of the region’s newest brewers, Ren Min, launched their own ‘Beer With Hawkers’ badge on the beer review platform.

Untappd may be full of obnoxious and uninformed commentary. Still, it provides a valuable way for your beer to get listed in Google Search (try searching for your core range beers and see yourself). It has several thousand users in most large cosmopolitan cities in Asia-Pacific.

Another tactic to deploy is engaging with Facebook Groups. Groups with several thousand members and up offer powerful clearinghouses where your salespeople and marketers can consistently publish information about new beers, special events and new food offerings.

A common trap here is overly focusing on craft beer specialists and industry groups: these are helpful to get out more specialist releases, but they’re often full of politics and have limited reach.

Instead, try and target more significant food and beverage communities with many thousands of members and have a good reputation in your city or country. Expat groups offer another venue to advertise to higher income potential drinkers.

Final Thoughts

If the above suggestions feel overwhelming, it may be time to consider rethinking how you and your organisation approaches marketing.

While advertising on platforms like Facebook and learning about new channels like Grab can often feel frustrating, a winning marketing strategy translated into execution can be tremendous for your bottom line.

Focus on the possibility of winning new customers, the profit potential for future sales and the fun of coming up with punchy copy for your ads – and you may start to get a bigger kick out of being hunched in front of spreadsheets planning out your annual marketing plan!

Article by:

Oliver Woods

Oliver Woods

Oliver is a marketing strategist by trade and a craft beer enthusiast by choice. He is the co-founder of Kakilang Brewing Company, a nomadic nano-brewery and lives, works and drinks in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam.

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