The board of the Independent Brewers Association hosted a webinar yesterday, outlining progress and providing advice to its members on everything from HR to setting up online shops and deliveries.
The organisation, which represents 331 of the country’s 650+ breweries, updated the virtual audience about events, noting that Good Beer Week has been postponed along with the Indie Beer Showcase. The IBA said both would be rescheduled although dates have yet to be confirmed.
The organisation’s SA Mashup has been cancelled but it currently plans for BrewCon to proceed with it original dates in September in Brisbane.
Pete Philip, chair of the IBA, said that the pandemic was the organisation’s biggest concern.
“The big thing obviously right now is COVID 19 support for small breweries,” he said.
“We sent a letter on 17th March and had a reasonable hearing from the Treasury, they do know we need their help.
“But at the moment everyone is asking for a hand out, every industry is saying exactly the same thing, that they’re going to go out of business.”
He said that brewers need to make as much use as possible of all government assistance, including taking advantage of the deferred excise payments being offered by the ATO.
“The other thing that has happened is that with everyone asking for relief, it serves our purpose to make our industry look a little bit bigger and to partner with any like businesses,” Philip said.
As a result, the IBA has teamed up with its counterpart in the world of craft distilling.
“We’ve joined forces with the independent distillers, together we have 5,000 staff, which makes us look like a bigger industry. At the moment we’re seeming very small to government.
“Our advice from our lobbying consultants is that we need to make a lot more noise… we all need to get involved.
New General Manager
The update saw the board introduce the association’s new General Manager Kylie Lethbridge. Lethbridge, joins the IBA from the role of Executive Manager, Economic Development & Tourism for Victoria’s Nillumbuk Shire Council. In an announcement earlier in the week, the IBA said the new GM “comes to us with a background in marketing, economic development, government and advocacy which is going to be needed now more than ever as we work through this unprecedented situation.”
The IBA offered its PR functions to its members, saying that getting the story of the brewery across and how the current circumstances are affecting the business and the community.
“We’re creating a save your local brewery media campaign, a media release you can customise to your own needs and send it to your local paper and hopefully that can get a run,” said Maryann Separovic, marketing manager at the IBA.
“Pitch to your local media and get your story out there,” she said.
“Let me say to anyone who is regional brewer that our regional and rural argument and story is the strongest part of our argument to the government,” said Philip.
“They understand that regional businesses and critically small brewpubs are doing it the hardest, they have effectively lost 100 per cent of revenue and few package product.”
The IBA is sending out a survey to its members to gather data to bolster its arguments to government.
Another key point in the discussion was around the logistics and branding of online sales.
Derek Hales, co-founder of Bad Shepherd and IBA board member, told brewers that: “We as the IBA have a responsibility to be a voice of independent brewers and it’s up to you to leverage that.”
The team said that now that sales were moving online, buying decisions were made at home and not at the point of purchase, and that it was critical brewers told their stories.
Board member Johnny Latta agreed.
“We are fighting for our lives, [and this is] putting a name and a face to what the real issues are. What does it mean to be independent?
“A lot of that is your personal stories. [Telling them] will make the real difference.”
He said it was a major issue for brewers, especially those who had not done online sales or deliveries before.
“A lot of people have not done online direct to consumer, it’s easy but there’s also lots of traps you need to be very careful of. And you have to think about the long term as well.”
He acknowledged that costs were often too prohibitive to regional brewers, but for anyone that could access it, it could be a major opportunity.
“There is a massive spike online. We’ve seen through our online portal, that’s spiked.”
In terms of sales platforms, the team suggested Shopify, but Latta said there was more to it than that.
“You’ve got to think about a few things, first of all the consumer, you’ve got to get them to your site. You’ve got to think about the content you put up there
“What platform are you using, what are you putting up there?”
He suggested mixed boxes, sampling boxes and other options, as well as discounts to keep customers coming back.
“Long term don’t piss off your other retailers. If you don’t sell to those retailers, think, are you going to sell to them in future? When you’re setting your pricing think that through
“Make sure you tick off your boxes platform, price you set, how will you cover your freight and how ill you entice them and get them back.”
He said this could be a good opportunity to diversify revenue streams.
“Long term it could be a good revenue stream for everyone, it could be the silver lining here.”
The other issue with online sales is deliveries, and the team are currently negotiating with delivery companies like Australia Post to cut prices or offer discounts. Local deliveries can be made using a breweries own delivery van or services like Sendle, he said.
if you missed the briefing, you can view it below.