The Independent Brewers Association has today kicked off its annual conference and exhibition BrewCon by launching a celebration of all things independent – the first-ever Indie Beer Day.
Intended to be a day to celebrate, promote and highlight the achievements of independent brewers, the annual event will be held for the first time on October 26th this year.
Dereck Hales, founder of Bad Shepherd and leader of the IBA’s Marketing Project Group announced the event at the opening of BrewCon today, and urged independent brewers and their supporters to get involved.
He said with six-year compound annual growth rate of 19.7% up to 2018, a 5.9 per cent volume share and 97 million litres of beer brewed last year, now was the time for the industry to tell its story and celebrate its achievements.
“We need to tell that story ourselves of what we are – we’re independent, we connect with you and understand you as a community,” he said.
After the announcement, Hales spoke to Brews News about the importance of the day, and the promotion of the Supporters and Independent Seals.
“The main thing [that the IBA are aiming for with the Indie Beer Day] is familiarity. We want people to know that independence exists. So far it’s on the labels, but that’s it.
“We haven’t gone out and told people the story. With Indie Beer Day we want people to now understand why we are independent, what independence means and why it matters to you.
“Number two is engagement, have some fun, celebrate what being independent really means.
“We need to go out and tell that story and we haven’t done it, we’ve put it on pack and we’ve just been passive. So now its time to invest in a relationship with the people that are making the decision at the point of purchase.”
Many independent brewers have been working on their branding and marketing to differentiate themselves from competitors in a busy market, but it’s not been universal, Hales explained.
“Everyone needs to do a bit better. I’m a bit myopic because I sell in Victoria and don’t really get out, but from what I can see as an IBA board member, I don’t see us telling a lot of stories about independence.
“I think we’re getting better, I think we’re getting better through B2B channels, and the label is doing a good job at starting to get people to question and I think a couple of breweries are getting better at starting to telling their own stories.
“Stone and Wood and Stomping Ground have done a really good job of trying to raise their profiles for example, but as a general rule we haven’t.”
He said that the IBA did a national survey as a representative sample of Australia, demographically and geographically. The results found that 13 per cent of people were aware of the seal, but only 3 or 4 per cent knew what it was and wit even fewer people it resonated.
“This is because we’ve done nothing to try to [promote it] – at least people have seen it and recognise it, but now we need to explain it, and go on the journey to raise that familiarity.”
“For people that care about community, quality and experience, it will be important. There will always be a role for major craft brewers, but our role is to be local, a personal face, people know me personally, they know I run Bad Shepherd – CUB can’t do that.
“Our role will always be the personal community, social element.”
Hales said so far the response from the industry had been overwhelmingly positive.
“They want this, they want to see us succeed and be a part of this,” he said.
He urged indie supporters to raise their glasses at 2pm AEST to the health of independent breweries.
The IBA will be releasing more information for brewers and supporters on what they can do support Indie Beer Day 2019 in the coming weeks.
The IBA team also announced the launch of the Supporters Seal, intended to signpost to consumers that the venue or company backs independent beer.
Venues and outlets must become and associate member to display the supporter steal, with membership fees of $100 +GST per year.
Hales said that supporters of the independent beer movement would benefit from the growing popularity of the industry, and that was why they should invest in the Supporters Seal.
“A part of [the reason why they should get involved] is our growth. The numbers speak for themselves and they are huge numbers.
“It also helps them differentiate [themselves]and tell the same story we’re telling, connecting with consumers who are looking for independent beer, who understand it.”