November 30, 2012

Brewing up Stories: The Value of Crowdfunding for Breweries

We were very pleased to sponsor yesterday’s live video feed of the Brewbound conference.  Brewbound put together an excellent program and it was satisfying to help bring the program to a wider audience.  If there was a dominant theme at yesterday’s conference it was the importance of story.  Beginning with New Belgium’s Kim Jordan, each presenter touched on the increasingly important role of brewery as story teller.  Great beer is assumed and the cost of entry.  Story telling is how you differentiate in an increasingly comptetitive market. Here are a just a few representative comments made to this point:

“We are story making beings.” Kim Jordan, New Belgium

“Craft beer popularity has less to do with beer and more with identity.” Tony Magee, Lagunitas

“We are all about stories.  It’s how we sell beer.”  Dwight Detter, Whole Foods

“Consumers thrive in an environment where they can be a part of something bigger than   themselves.” Paul Evers, tbd Creative

Given the primary role stories play in selling beer, crowdfunding represents a powerful medium for brewers.  Indeed, studies indicate that 20% of people engage crowdfunding out of a desire to be a part of something bigger.  As story making beings, we are willing to give our time, money and resources to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.  If yesterday’s panelists are right, then craft beer and crowdfunding both appeal to this deeper desire to be a part of something bigger.  Breweries should take notice.

For the 1300 breweries in planning, rewards crowdfunding is a means to sketch out a story that consumers are invited to participate in even before the brewery has poured a beer.  Use crowdfunding as a platform to communicate a distinct brand, and invite your future customers to participate in experiences that reinforce the brand and build brand advocates.  This is what our current rewards platform sets out to do.  You can participate right now in the stories Mischief Brewing and Scars & Stripes are currently writing in Peoria and Waco.

For established breweries, equity crowdfunding will be a means for customers to become an actual part of the story by owning a tiny piece of the company.  Kim Jordan talked about the experiences structured around New Belgium’s employee ownership meetings.  Imagine this on a broader scale involving several hundred or even thousands of customers at an annual shareholder meeting.  In an industry where customers desperately seek to participate in the brand by waiting in line for hours for the release of a product or the chance to tour a facility, equity crowdfunding will be the final plank in the bridge connecting brewers and consumers. This is precisely what BrewDog created in Scotland.  It is what will be possible here in the U.S. once the JOBS Act is finalized. We are building a mechanism in anticipation of this new law and can’t wait to help facilitate this kind of story telling in the near future!

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