6 types of taproom customers and what they want

With restrictions lifted across the majority of the United States, beer drinkers are eager to return to their favorite watering holes once again. While no two beer drinkers are the same, it’s essential that breweries consider who they serve and what matters most to those customers in order to maintain dine-in profit margins. One party may walk into your bar for a new beer release, but the next party can’t miss this week’s bingo tournament. Knowing your customer base is an essential first step to effective marketing and branding.

Does your brewery attract locals, social gatherings, travelers or something else? We reviewed over 1,300 2021 taproom customer reviews from 68 randomly selected breweries in the US and completed a full report. Who are we? Craft Beer Advisory Servicesa full-service market research company exclusively dedicated to the craft beer industry.

In our report, we analyzed patterns, preferences, and motivations to develop behavioral profiles for six high profile consumer personas. After all, whether it’s a family of four or a beer lover, the goal remains the same: to provide a product, environment and experience that leads to a return visit. Read on to learn more about the six types of dining room customers, including their motivations, rejections, and competition for their business.

1. Social Gatherers (50% of online sample)

Social Gatherers are customers primarily driven by the environmental elements of their visits. It’s the outdoor seating, the views and the general ambience that impact their visit. They often visit their friends for a good chat followed by good products. Their perceptions of breweries are more influenced by staff interactions and service efficiency than other personality groups. In fact, poor service interactions are the main reason why this group of people are not returning to taprooms.

In terms of overall happiness, social unifiers are more likely to leave positive remarks about their experience than several other personality groups. This is a big win for the breweries since the social unifiers were the largest group of consumers. However, breweries also naturally face the most competition for these people. Environments like traditional pubs, local bars, other breweries, and wineries all have the potential to offer similar elements to pique their social interests.

2. The gourmands (33% of the online sample)

Foodies are customers primarily driven by, you guessed it, food. Whether it’s a full kitchen, limited offerings, or even delivery services, foodies have a need to eat when they visit, otherwise they greatly increase the likelihood of going elsewhere. The secondary motivations for return visits among this person are the variety of beer and the environment. When analyzing the main detractors of the experience, the food also ranked as the top reason people wouldn’t return to a brasserie. These customers placed much less importance on interactions with staff, as the food really made or broke their experiences.

Foodies are also one of the hardest groups to please as they were more negative overall than other personality categories. Breweries also face fierce competition for these customers, as they can head to pubs, bars, restaurants or even food trucks to get their fix.

3. Beer Geeks (25% online sample)

Beer Geeks are the customers committed to the craftsmanship behind your beer. They are the ones who talk to your brewer about different hops and tasting notes. When analyzing the top motivators for a return visit, the number one and two factors were beer variety and specific beers. It was the only group in which specific beers played an important role in the likelihood of returning to a brewery. After beer, food was the second most important motivator for Beer Geeks. As with Social Gatherers, service interactions were the primary reason this character did not return.

Despite high expectations, Beer Geeks were the happiest consumers overall and the lowest maintenance crowd in your taproom. They usually find something on the menu to enjoy and you naturally face the least competition in terms of venues apart from other breweries or craft beer bars.

4. Travelers (10% of online sample)

Travelers are non-locals who are primarily looking for experiences. Aspects such as environment, social interactions, and dining room attributes are almost as important as beer variety and food. Rather than focusing primarily on return motivators, this section details the detractors of the experience. Since in many cases travelers won’t return, converting these one-time shoppers into a positive influence on your online social footprint is critical. The main factor affecting the traveler experience is the interaction of people with the staff and the efficiency of the service.

There is an added level of pressure with strangers, as they often use the PTO, spend money on travel, and choose to spend it with your brewery. The minimum experience for these people is a happy staff. The good news is that the interactions between people are something really within the brewery’s control, more so than other factors like price or location.

Travelers are a happy bunch compared to other personas and the competition is more limited. We found that other tourist locations such as local restaurants with excellent reputations or other experiential restaurants with incredible views or specialties are other top candidates for this group.

5. Premises (10% of online sample)

Locals are the backbone of any small business and often especially for craft breweries. While they may not be the most active online, they tied for first in service interaction importance. Connections keep locals coming back almost as much as beer.

While breweries love their premises, they are the hardest to manage in terms of leaving reviews and impacting online reputation. Locals are much more likely to leave negative reviews than other personality groups, and this usually only happens after a bad experience. Even though someone may have had 10 good experiences, if the 11 that does not meet expectations may inspire them to be a first reviewer. Given the impact of COVID-19 on our research, residents were comparing pre-pandemic experiences to during and post-pandemic experiences.

People want nothing more than to return to their favorite place, but they do so with the highest expectations of all groups. The main motivating factors for the group are food, variety of beers and the environment. The main competition for these people is probably well-known, including places like other local bars, family-owned and operated venues, and other restaurants.

6. Family travelers (5% of the online sample)

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Family Trippers focus on the experience of their partner, their children and their four-legged friends. Aspects like environment, facilities and accessibility are more important than other groups. It takes more than good beer to bring these people back. As we got deeper into this group, it naturally made sense because there were more people to please.

Children will worry about their food, garden games, board games or music, while parents are probably interested in different things. For everyone to be happy, everyone must be busy. Competition for these consumers is widespread, ranging from local restaurants to centers of activity such as bowling or the cinema.

For more information on craft beer consumer personalities and the full report, you can Click here.

Michael Varda is the founder of Craft Beer Advisory Services, a full-service market research firm exclusively dedicated to the craft beer industry. Their research membership provides customized data on the craft brewery market and consumer trends.

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