Schlafly Taps Into Mobile Marketing

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The independent craft brewery debuts a new app and implements beacon technology to better engage customers and help them find its products.

The craft beer industry is booming. According to the Brewers Association, craft brewers produced 24.5 million barrels in 2015 and generated $22.3 billion in retail dollar value—representing 21% of the total beer market retail dollar value.  

But a growing market means growing competition. Any given bar across the country will have multiple taps and bottles of craft beer, so it's vital and difficult to stand out amongst the crowd.

Schlafly Beer, an independent craft brewery in Missouri, wanted to find a way to better engage its customers and help them locate the brewery's products. To help meet these objectives, Schlafly launched a new mobile app and started experimenting with beacon technology at the beginning of April.

Introducing a new mobile flavor

With the brewery producing more than 50 unique styles of craft beer and its distribution ranging from bars to grocery stores, Schlafly's CEO James Pendegraft knows that it can be difficult for customers to find the exact beer they want when they want it.

“We have great distribution but everyone is always searching for that next style that next season that comes out,” he says, “and sometimes it's hard to find.”

Schlafly's new app, the “Brew Finder,” aims to solve this problem. Pendegraft says it combines GPS technology with distribution and sales data across the brewery's different retail accounts to show which beers are sold where. Users can filter Schlafly's products by year-round brews, limited-time beers, seasonal drinks, and special releases to help them find the beer that they're looking for. The app even contains a map function to provide users with the exact address and phone number of the places carrying the beer and offer directions.

“If you're standing in the center of downtown Chicago and you want to know where the closest Schlafly beer is, you simply open [the app] up and a pin will pop up on there,” Pendegraft explains.

Infusing the messaging with context

But perhaps a mobile app's greatest asset is the ability to target users when they are right next to a company's products (and when they are most likely to purchase). So, Schlafly implemented Juxtad's mobile proximity marketing platform to send users contextual messages through beacon technology.

Here's how it works: After consumers download the app, they're prompted to turn on their Bluetooth settings and allow the Brew Finder to access their location and send them push notifications. They're also asked to provide their birth date to ensure that the user is of the legal drinking age.

If consumers enter a bar or restaurant that sells Schlafly's beer on tap, their signal may be picked up by one of Juxtad's TapTalkers—a beacon that sits directly on the beer tap. Consumers will then receive a push notification containing a static image and a marketing message with a call-to-action. The call-to-action will contain a link, which users can click on to be taken to a website for further information about the promotion. 

Testing it among the masses

Schlafly tested the new technology with a campaign that launched April 1 and aimed to drive awareness for its involvement with Earth Day. Consumers within proximity of the TapTalker beacons were sent push notifications inviting them to purchase a pint of beer. For every pint purchased, Schlafly donated $1 to the environmental nonprofit St. Louis Earth Day. Consumers could also click on the push notification image to be transferred to the St. Louis Earth Day site.

Although the campaign was Schlafly's first test of the app and beacon technology, Pendegraft aims to use the data acquired through these technologies to send more targeted messaging. For example, Martin Howell, managing partner at Juxtad, says the platform can track how long consumers have been within proximity of a TapTalker beacon and how many times they've reencountered it. Pendegraft says that he would like to use this data to send messages to customers discouraging them to drink and drive and linking to a car service. He also intends to use these push notifications to drive sales, such as by promoting new beer releases or drink specials. In fact, he expects bars and restaurants that have the TapTalker to generate higher sales than those that don't in the future.

Bottling up results

Pendegraft estimates that the Schlafly app generated “hundreds” of downloads after its first day in market. Schlafly has promoted the app through social media, print, and in-store promotions. The brand's official press release also says that Schlafly intends to grow its TapTalker presence from 50 implementations to 250 by the end of May.

Brewing up new innovation is never easy, and Pendegraft admits that he's learned a thing or two from this experience, mainly the importance of sending respectful messaging.

“I can't send someone three, four, or five messages a day in one setting. That's inappropriate and I'll turn consumers off,” he says. “So, I have to be really responsible with this technology and make sure that the content that I'm generating is very relevant and placed in their hands at the right time.”

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