Archive for the ‘business’ Category
With the number of craft breweries in BC expected to reach at least 130 by the end of 2016, competition is growing to the point where I expect we’ll see an increasing number of business failures. That’s not because there’s a lack of room for growth. BC has a population and GDP similar to Oregon, yet they have double the number of breweries we have. It’s because there’s a shrinking margin of error, especially in outrageously expensive Vancouver.
Growth of the BC craft beer market alone hasn’t floated all boats. (Remember Plan B, DIX, Taylor’s Crossing, and Surlie?) Yet, that’s what many of the startups seem to be counting on without a much deeper consideration of to whom and how they will sell their beer. In fact, there are breweries that don’t even have a working marketing plan (not the same as a promotion plan), never mind a marketing budget (not the same as ad hoc spending). We’ll see how much longer they’ll last on passion after the next 30 breweries open their doors.
Thanks to Beer Me BC, we have a better idea of whom the typical BC craft beer drinker is and their consumption habits. According to the most recent self-selecting survey, they are predominantly males between the ages of 27 and 42 living in the Lower Mainland and Greater Victoria. They drink, in ranking order of preference, India pale ale, stout, pale ale, sour ale, or saison from a bomber 3-5 days per week, mostly at home. Their beer is chosen foremost for its style, then by brewery and reputation.
With the craft beer market share in BC at 20% and the number of craft breweries in the province approaching 100, the landscape is starting to look a lot like Downtown Vancouver’s skyline. That’s not to say the market can’t sustain more breweries, given the other 80% that hasn’t come under the craft beer umbrella, but there will need to be more growth. The question is, where will it come from?
No Sure Bet
The easy days – if there really ever was such a thing – are over. Considering names like Surgenor, DIX, Taylor’s Crossing, and R&B, opening a craft brewery in BC is no longer a sure thing. Having a passion is not enough to carry a business. Now, a lot more dispassionate business acumen has to go with it. Marketing needs to be a fundamental component of one’s business plan, not an afterthought. That means realistically analyzing the market to find your niche and developing a strong brand around it before spending a cent on real estate and plant. Or for those with an existing business, it’s time to take a hard look at where the industry is going and ask yourself if major changes will be needed in how you operate to stay in the game.
As I anticipated, increased competition has breweries – especially those without a clearly defined niche – increasingly searching for new markets. Logically, the first forays outside BC have been to Alberta and Washington. Then, it’s only natural that the rest of North America eventually came into view. Anywhere else?
Read the rest of this entry »
The So You Want To Open A Brew Pub series ended many moons ago, but people still read it and it has become a valuable resource for entrepreneurs and beer aficionados. Sometimes folks leave comments and questions and sometimes they find my personal email address and write me directly. The most common question is, do I think [insert small Canadian town name] is a good spot to open a brew pub? Read the rest of this entry »
Cresting the hill, a vista unfolds much changed since I last visited five years ago. Once an open field and a vision in the mind of Christian Sartori, the land is now covered by trellises draped with verdant boas sporting clusters of aromatic hops, hops that gave rise to Driftwood’s legendary Sartori Harvest IPA.
When I first paid a visit to Chris Sartori’s secluded Columbia Valley ranch, I was joined by two brewers and a brewery owner. The hop crisis had hit and I was hoping that by introducing Chris to our craft brewers, they would establish a long-term relationship that would both reduce the financial risk of his venture and help create for them a more reliable hop supply. Read the rest of this entry »
While I have lamented for some time that most hotels in Vancouver seem oddly uninterested in promoting local craft beer to the city’s visitors, this is slowly beginning to change. One of my current favourite Vancouver hotels to enjoy a BC brew at is The Listel Hotel on Robson Street (at Jervis). Forage, their zero waste restaurant (formerly, O’Doul’s), offers a seasonally-changing selection of ten BC craft taps, along with some Pacific Northwest bottles. I can’t resist having their meaty popcorn with crackling for a beer snack as a start to an evening of seriously good local communal noshing. Chef Whittaker’s award-winning BC spot prawn and seafood chowder is also not to be missed!
Starting today, in a BCbrews exclusive contest, you have three chances to win a $100 gift certificate to forage. Every Monday for the next three weeks, I’ll be posting a question on Twitter with the hashtag #forage4beer relating to forage’s beer selection, which you can find on their Web site. Answer the question once on Twitter, being sure to include the hashtag. Then, on every Friday at 5pm, we’ll choose a random winner who has correctly answered the question.
On a final note, be sure to keep an eye on the forage twitter feed for news of an exciting craft beer event that is in the works. You won’t want to miss it!
Despite the fact that many small BC craft breweries often struggle to get their beers listed for sale in government BC Liquor Stores, the Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) is sending one of their own to the Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America (CBC) to give a talk about “market opportunities” in BC for US craft breweries.
LDB Portfolio Manager, Kimberly Giesbrecht, is set to give a one-hour talk entitled, Canada Market – British Columbia, during a day of talks dedicated to “Export Development” at the CBC. According to the LDB, Giesbrecht was invited to speak at the CBC by the U.S. National Craft Beer Association (USNCBA) “because BC is recognized as very supportive of the craft beer industry.” Giesbrecht “will be sharing her insight into the BC market with their members,” addressing “craft brewers from around the world including many from BC.”
I hope BC craft brewers do not have to travel all the way to Washington, DC, where the conference is being held, to benefit from Giesbrecht’s insights about the BC craft beer market.