Why Every Brewery Needs a Mug Club

A mug club can work wonders for your brewery.

Injecting Cash Flow with Prepaid Rewards

In 2016, the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, England, began construction on a 150,000 ton polar research vessel. The UK government decided to give the taxpayers, who had effectively paid for the £150 million autonomous underwater vehicle, a slice of ownership by launching a public vote on what it should be named. 

A radio presenter jokingly suggested the state-of-the-art research ship should be called, “Boaty McBoatface”. And thus a legend was born. The suggestion received 124,000 votes – more than four times second place. Despite controversy over the whimsical moniker, the results of the poll stood and the ship was officially christened “Boaty McBoatface”, or “Boaty” for short.

The episode highlighted that when people feel they have a say in something, their engagement and attachment to it increase significantly. This concept is also witnessed in the world of microbreweries and their Mug Clubs. 

By offering customers the chance to put their name on something – in this case, a personalized mug – breweries are tapping into that same sense of ownership and connection. Mug Clubs illustrate the compelling effect of personalization in building brand loyalty and a sense of belonging.

But what exactly is Mug Club and should your craft beer business have one?

What is a Mug Club?

Save a Seat campaigns in theatres are a lot like a Mug Club.

A Mug Club is a unique loyalty program offered by microbreweries, aiming to foster a sense of belonging and reward regular patrons. Members pay an upfront fee to join and, in return, receive various exclusive benefits. These can include custom mugs, special discounts, early access to new releases, and invitations to members-only events.

The concept of prepaid membership programs can be seen in other industries, such as the world of arts and entertainment. Campaigns like ‘Name a Seat’, ‘Save a Seat’, or ‘Take a Seat’ have been used to generate crucial funding for theatres. Regular attendees can pay to have their name on a seat, providing financial relief while also creating a lasting connection between patrons and the venue.

Just like seat naming campaigns, Mug Clubs encourage repeat patronage and foster a sense of ownership and pride among participants.

Deciding the Goal for your Mug Club

Before creating your own Mug Club, you should first determine what your goals are.The objective will depend on factors like your business aims and the needs of your community.

For instance, if your primary goal is to enhance customer loyalty and retention, your mug club should focus on creating a sense of exclusivity and belonging. This could involve personalized mugs, members-only events, or early access to new brews. If generating upfront revenue is the primary aim, consider offering lifetime or long-term memberships which provide a steady cash flow.

Alternatively, if your goal is to create a buzz around your brand and attract new customers, you might focus on unique experiences that members can’t get anywhere else, like brewing their own beer or exclusive brewery tours. This strategy not only engages existing patrons but also piques the interest of potential customers.

The goal could also be more community-focused, aiming to create a hub for beer enthusiasts to gather, share stories, and enjoy the craft beer experience together. In this case, your mug club could include community events, collaborative brew sessions, or educational workshops about beer and brewing.

Ultimately, your mug club should reflect the ethos of your brewery and offer value that resonates with your customers. By clearly defining your goal, you can tailor the program to ensure it aligns with your brewery’s brand and meets the expectations of your patrons, ultimately contributing to the growth and success of your brewery.

Timeframe Options

When considering the timeframe for a Mug Club, breweries have several options, each catering to different business and customer engagement goals.

Lifetime Memberships 

This option is ideal for creating long-term loyalty. Members who buy into a lifetime program are making a lasting commitment to your brewery, which can foster a deep sense of belonging and brand advocacy. It also provides a significant upfront cash boost.

This method has been successfully put to market by businesses like Shaketown Brewing Co. and Windfall Cider, which offer innovative lifetime customer programs. For example, Shaketown’s Beer for Life program provides weekly beers, fostering long-term customer loyalty. Similarly, Windfall Cider’s Cider for Life initiative offers a monthly cider for life, demonstrating the effectiveness of such programs in building a dedicated customer base.

Some examples of different lifetime mug club campaigns

Annual Memberships

Renewed yearly, this option keeps members engaged and offers a steady, recurring revenue stream. It allows for flexibility in changing benefits and adapting to new trends, keeping the program fresh and exciting for members.

Limited Time Memberships

These can be structured around specific events or seasons, offering a short-term influx of cash and a surge in customer engagement. They are great for testing new concepts or for seasonal promotions and can lead to heightened excitement and urgency among potential members.

Each of these timeframes has its unique benefits and can be chosen based on the brewery’s immediate and long-term objectives. Creating a balance between exclusivity and commitment, and maintaining an accessible and dynamic program, is key to the success of a Mug Club.

Maintaining accurate records of members is crucial. This includes tracking membership status, benefits utilized, and personal preferences. Backing up this data ensures smooth operations and personalized customer service.

Examples of Discount and Perk Strategies

Crafting a successful Mug Club requires not just offering discounts, but creating a range of perks that add value to the membership. Discounts could include a free pint per day, a top-up to a full pour, or special pricing on new releases. However, it’s the additional perks that truly enrich the experience.

Consider offering priority access to limited-edition brews or special events, which can make members feel privileged. Exclusive merchandise, like branded apparel or glassware, adds a tangible reminder of their membership. Discounted or free tickets to brewery events can also be a significant draw.

Additionally, incorporating a loyalty program where members earn rewards for frequent visits or referrals can encourage continuous engagement. Birthday or anniversary perks personalized for each member can also add a special touch. The goal is to create a sense of value that goes beyond financial savings, fostering a deeper connection with your brand.

Crafting Exclusive Experiences

Exclusive experiences are another facet of successful Mug Clubs. Providing members with unique opportunities that go beyond the typical brewery visit can deepen their connection with your brand.

Private tastings, especially for new or limited releases, can make members feel like insiders. Inviting them to exclusive brewery tours, where they get a behind-the-scenes look at the brewing process, adds educational value.

For a more hands-on experience, offering members the chance to participate in the brewing process or create their own custom batch can be incredibly appealing. This kind of engagement not only creates memorable experiences but also fosters a deep sense of ownership and loyalty towards your brand.

Wallet Passes

Incorporating a wallet pass into your mug club can take it to the next level.

For those really looking to take their Mug Club to the next level, consider incorporating technology. Services like FOBI can significantly enhance engagement through a customer Wallet Pass on their phones. 

If you’re thinking about starting a Mug Club, we can also help. It is an effective tool for building a community around your microbrewery while creating opportunities to foster a sense of ownership that pays dividends in terms of both revenue and brand advocacy.

To learn more about creating a lasting connection with your customers, contact us to set up Wallet Pass for your microbrewery or explore the potential of lifetime loyalty programs.

Author avatar
Lewis Dyson

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