Connecting directly with the consumer
Under lockdown, direct to consumer has been a marketing channel that has seemingly, for many brands, emerged out of necessity. But it’s one that has the power to shift Beavertown’s entire strategy as Plant explained: “[our web shop] went from a little cottage industry into what is now a pretty tight, industrial outfit, and is our second biggest income, pretty much, behind the grocers.”
For Beavertown, the DTC offering on its web shop has been, says Plant, “a real revelation.” Prior to lockdown, a team of two ran the shop; there are now eight people running its day-to-day operations. And it’s seen phenomenal growth, as Plant adds, “it’s grown 1,000% per week, if not over. It’s been mad!”
Rainsford elaborates on how, while the growth of DTC has been a moment of excitement for the brand, it has also been one in which the business has had “to refocus and quickly scale the channel to cope with demand.” As Plant adds, “everybody’s still gasping for a drink.”
Plant shares the “symbiotic relationship” that the brand has found itself in with beer lovers in the UK and he values the connection this new online channel has created. “For us as a brand that means that we’ve got direct contact to [the consumer] which is everything that we want,” he adds. But as the buying habits of the public changes, perhaps for the long-term, he says, “for us the biggest learning is how do we maintain what we’ve found, what we’ve unearthed?”
Innovation under lockdown
Whilst lockdown has been anything other than smooth sailing for businesses and individuals alike, what it is demonstrating is that innovation and creativity are still at the heart of running a successful company. “We haven’t sat back and thought crumbs let’s tighten things up,” says Plant. “If anything, we’ve got louder and are doing more,” adds Rainsford.
Instead, what the brand has tried to do, Plant explains, is “really taking people on a proper Beavertown journey. Obviously built on beer but then so much more around it.” Rainsford puts it as “brand shifting from advertisers to content producers,” something Beavertown have embraced with their own marketing activity under lockdown. “Our key value is about creating conversation,” Plant adds.
The brand’s marketing has diversified into new offerings, from a weekly newsletter to Instagram sessions on Fridays, live gigs and tasting evenings. “[We’re] making the positives out of the moments that we’ve got,” says Plant of the activity. Beavertown is also part of the Covid Arms, a virtual pub that broke Guinness World Records earlier in lockdown for having over 6,000 people in one night at the ‘pub’. Profits from the events have been going to the National Emergencies Trust and the Trussell Trust - Beavertown works with the trust’s arm in Tottenham.
Alongside diversifying the brand’s marketing activity, the business has also launched two new beers under lockdown. The first was Nanobot, a 2.8% “super crushable” session IPA, a launch that had been in the pipeline pre-lockdown. The second was Staycation, a one-off beer that, says Plant, is “about celebrating having a vacation in the UK at home.” All profits from Staycation are going to the Trussell Trust.
“It’s been about trying to find the positives and keeping people positively engaged with what we’re doing,” explains Plant. But while he is excited by much of the work the business is doing, he adds, that, ultimately, “our brand has been built on the bar so we can’t wait for the pubs and the bars to open again.”