The Beer Store wants to be more than just a beer store

A new platform focuses on selection, be that in terms of new beer varieties or products like seltzers and radlers.

The Beer Store is looking to expand its reach to a new range of customers – specifically, those who might not be looking just for its namesake beverage.

In a new campaign developed with creative agency King Ursa (which won the Beer Store’s AOR assignment in November), the retailer is aiming to show drinkers that they can find a wider range of alcohol than they may expect in its stores.

Called “Whatever the Case May Be,” the platform highlights the breadth of its selection. That can be in terms of beer – the category has boomed with a range of different varieties and brewers over the last decade – but also other products that are now available there, including seltzers, radlers and hard teas.

“We know consumers’ tastes and shopping behaviours vary as much as the culture and landscapes of this amazing province, so we knew we needed to appeal to a broad and diverse audience,” says Natasha McVie, director of marketing for The Beer Store.

The campaign is built around four 15-second spots that are being supported by contextual ads on social, digital (including targeted executions on sports and gaming apps) and in-store. The digital ads include a wide array of slogans, such as “When was the last time you drank something for the first time?” and “Searching for cold singles in your area?”

The campaign aims to showcase the range of products for sale at The Beer Store, but it also tries to have fun with it, says Cheryl Gosling, president of King Ursa. “It gives us an opportunity to speak to its huge range of products, great employees and widening customer base while affirming its positioning as a friendly and approachable retailer.”

Last year, The Beer Store announced that it had lost $50.7 million. This followed a trend of losses from previous years. The loss was partially attributed to the pandemic and the loss of wholesale services for bars and restaurants, but it was also pinned to other forces, including increased competition in the beer category and changing consumer tastes.

In particular, the RTD category has seen substantial growth over the past few years, drawing many traditional beer brewers – from Corona to Big Rock to Steam Whistle – into the space.

It’s in this context – and on the 95th anniversary of The Beer Store – that the new platform launches, aimed at “revitalizing our brand in the Ontario market,” says Ryan Calhoun, associate director of strategy at OMD Worldwide, which handles The Beer Store’s media and worked with the retailer and King Ursa on this campaign.

“Our strategy was to reach a younger audience than our historical core consumer. The media landscape has shifted dramatically in the past few years, most notably with our new millennial target,” he expounds. “In order to connect with this group and drive brand consideration, we needed to reconsider our go-to-market approach and overhaul our media mix. Our proprietary media tools helped us to optimize our channel selection to include digital video and gaming platforms, delivering incremental reach and driving brand relevance.”