Guest Post by: Gretchen Ardizzone at Shout Out Studio
Over the last couple years we’ve watched control put back in the hands of consumers through online funding programs like Kickstarter, where the consumer invests in the ideas or innovations that they want to see developed. One of the things influencing this trend is the increasing desire to support independent or local retail, restaurants, and manufacturers. For entrepreneurs, this method enables them to take their idea straight to the consumer and ask them to help fund it without the hassle of traditional financial institutions.
With the craft beer industry pouring in $10B in sales for 2012, it should come as no surprise that they’ve caught on to the popularity of this funding method as well. Just a few weeks ago, online platform CrowdBrewed.com and another site CraftFund.com were launched to cater solely to the craft brew entrepreneur.
Just like Kickstarter’s “all-or-nothing” funding method, individuals set campaign funding goals and deadlines; if they’re met, the campaign is funded, but if not, no money exchanges hands. Although little to no investment is required upfront, this method still requires these small start-up brewers to develop a compelling brand story and thoughtfully consider everything from the logo and product label design. And, equally important, is for them to generate interest and a following through social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
For craft beer enthusiasts this platform has its perks too. One of the most notable CrowdBrewed campaigns, by J. Wakefield Brewing, rewarded those who crowd funded with items based on their investment level, ranging from an all expenses paid trip to the 2014 Great American Beer Festival to brewing a special collaboration. While CrowdBrewed focuses on rewards, CraftFund incentives are equity-focused giving investors the chance to be part owner and benefit from dividends and discounts.
Brands are not just tapping into the consumer base for funding. Dutch brewing company Heineken announced that they’ve been crowdsourcing (the practice of soliciting ideas from a large group of consumers) for years. The brand utilizes an online community resource, IdeasBrewery.com, to discover innovative ideas for package design. Heineken has been using this method for over ten years and recently formalizing the process. Last year they even launched an ‘open call’ for bottle designs on their Facebook page, resulting in a limited edition holiday creation developed by the winner.
Other independent brewers, like Champion Brewing in Charlottesville, Virginia, have established label design contests in order to create a product that accurately reflects the uniqueness of their community and a design authentic to their story. Or, in the case of Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. in Fort Worth, they’ve made their label design competition an annual event celebrating their “Visionary Brew.”
Crowdsourcing design is a great way to get consumers involved and gather ideas from a larger audience. From small brewers crowdfunding their brands to major industry leaders crowdsourcing innovative packaging design, there’s no denying the consumer is at the heart of making a relevant and desirable product, from getting off the ground to sustaining success. It’s worthwhile to note the importance the online community plays with engaging with consumers to inspire ideas for growth and continued innovation.
Photo Credit: Trevor Pritchard