Big Drop Brewing Co.

James Kindred and Rob Fink founded Big Drop Brewing Co in 2016: a radical change from their previous careers of web design and law. Driven by their own desire to see quality alcohol-free beer readily available, they have since that time launched over a dozen products and received numerous international awards for their range of craft low/no alcohol ales. Being stocked by major supermarket chains, pubs, restaurants and online, they are considered the largest independent producer of alcohol-free craft beer in the world.

After three years of rapid growth, they headed into 2020 with a business plan to introduce kegs to bars and pubs, to improve the visibility of their brand taking it from the underbar fridges to the pumps. With interest from large UK chains and a packaging redesign complete, it was set to be an exciting year.

If you are expecting this to be a “then Covid hit and it all went sour” story then you would be mistaken. So far, it has been an exciting year and is set to continue to be so.

Their success over the past few months can be attributed to pivoting their business plan, being proactive, moving at speed, and being willing to try a different approach.

“We have always marketed business to business,” explained James, “but in March that had to change. We needed to replace the market we were losing with the closure of the hospitality sector, put our business plan on pause, and start selling directly to the customer. We couldn’t just stick with our original plan.”

Big Drop Brewing Co.

An online shop was created in two days and launched. The next challenge was to direct people to the online shop.

“Being aware that the majority of our market was sitting at home, we started a weekly online Living Room Pub Quiz. People could either play live or play via the recording on Youtube. We included discount vouchers, and offers at the end of the quiz to direct viewers to the new UK online store,” explained James. “Over the ten weeks we did the quiz, we had over 100,000 players, from all around the world.”

Using social media to drive traffic to the website means that the UK online shop is now providing a monthly turnover of £40,000. They achieve a conversion rate of around 10%. James puts that success down to the fact that the online shop is easy to use, there are repeat purchase incentives and that for many it is a known product. “We thought about how to make it easy for our existing market to access our product whilst at home, and how to introduce it to a new market, through offers such as introduce a friend discount. Switching to selling direct to the customer required a new marketing approach but one we could achieve within covid rules by changing how we used social media, Google Shopping and email marketing,” says James.

Big Drop Brewing Co is on target for achieving their planned sales this year due to the online shop success. They have been able to increase their CSR by offering NHS staff a discount and even providing free pints to NHS staff in hospital car parks.

During the lockdown they have introduced new products, established a direct-selling market, gained new clients (such as Nandos, Waitrose and Sainsburys), and have launched in Australia, securing a major retail contract.

There have of course been challenges. With the move to online retail for so many businesses, supplies of cardboard boxes became an issue. They have needed to react continually to challenges to survive.