Village Brewery stays social with delivery and shopper marketing

The Alberta brewery gets creative and shifts to in-store as community events are cancelled and bars are closed.

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Few products are as built on camaraderie and get togethers as beer. And like many breweries and beer brands, Calgary-based Village Brewery is involved in hundreds of community events annually, but thanks to COVID-19, these are not an option. In response, Village Brewery worked remotely last weekend to create and launch a new social campaign that let people can send a case of suds to a friend or hero and then cheers one another.

This is done through an online store where, at checkout, there is an option for delivery and customers can personalize greetings before shipping. People are also invited to share interactions (a “virtual cheers”) using the hashtag #villagesociable, showing them lifting a beer to each other no matter the distance.

Village Brewery events and marketing lead Jackson Stuart tells strategy that events are “a huge part of” its marketing, with 300 community events a year, nearly all of which have been postponed or cancelled.”

Stuart says the brand was doing home deliveries already, and that agency AdFarm reached out to expand the home delivery project and make it a bit more meaningful. He adds that Village Brewery does a lot of its marketing in-house, but that AdFarm has done a few projects for the brand in the past.

It has also partnered with SkiptheDishes, which, he says, is changing people’s buying habits. Foodora is now offering home delivery from Ontario’s Beer Stores, one of many delivery options for a product the province has deemed “essential,” while many other craft breweries are also making deliveries available through similar food courier services.

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In stores, however, Village Brewery is also ramping things up on the shopper marketing side with a lot of posters, tent cards, case stackers and traditional materials like shelf talkers and danglers. While many retailers have closed, most places where Village Brewery sells have remained open.

“We have a lot of bar and restaurant partners temporarily shut down for now, so it’s moved over to the retail side so we are stepping that up,” Stuart says. While there are no specific goals tied to “#villagesociable,” Stuart says it’s meant to offset the loss of sales volume by driving to delivery services and improving consideration in physical retail channels that are still availbale., as well as do something positive and meaningful.

When it comes ways the brand differentiates itself from other craft brewers trying to make themselves available to consumers, Stuart says each beer has a real-life story associated with it, which buyers can read online. Also, each beer has a photo submitted by a staff member or a family member and some local history that is incorporated into the design. For example, its Alberta Black Ale features a photo of one of the founder’s grandfather, a blacksmith by trade, who ran a shop in the prairies. The Neighbour Canadian Pale Ale features a photo taken in the 1900s of the great grandmother of a Village Brewery sales rep, and tells the tale of how the woman, Alice, and her husband, succumbed to the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918.

These little stories on the brand’s main page, Stuart says, is a way to make the product stand out and “make it more meaningful for staff and clients.”