Knowledge is selling power

Customers will buy from clued-up staff, say brewers

THE beer category has grown in complexity over the last few years with some customers in the on-trade now expecting information on everything from hop strains to the pasteurisation process.

• Drinks firms suggested knowledgeable and engaged staff could drive up beer sales.

With this in mind, brewers reckon bar staff knowledge is more vital than ever.
Simon George, UK MD for Czech brewery Budvar, said with so many different beers and styles available, it’s down to operators and their staff to ensure customers are comfortable navigating the beer range, adding that venues with clued-up staff are on the right track to driving up beer sales.

Consumers are eager to learn about hops and malts.

And he said operators should not be shy about contacting breweries for advice and assistance on the training front.
“Help tell the story of the beers you are serving; our research tells us that consumers are eager to learn about the hops and malt that their beers use, as well as more information about the real people who brew the beer,” said George.
“Consumers want this story to be told at point of purchase – we’ve run staff training with some of our customers this year with positive results and are looking at ways to roll this out even further in 2017.
“Team up with the brewer to have samples available in your pub; they can also help with ‘meet the brewer’ evenings.”
Paul Condron, marketing director at Tennent’s, agreed that boosting staff knowledge is a “great way to highlight your range”, suggesting that operators invest in training “which will encourage your staff to knowledgeably engage with customers”.
The Tennent’s Training Academy offers a variety of courses to give your staff confidence when recommending products,” he said.
“With evidence supporting the fact that customers are more likely to try a new product based on bar staff recommendations, it’s undoubtedly a worthy investment.”
When it comes to the beer range, staff training should not be a one-time thing, according to Andy Maddock, managing director of Caledonian Brewery, who suggested operators run product training sessions on a regular basis.

Train your staff regularly to ensure they know the range.

“Train your staff thoroughly and regularly to ensure they know about your beer range and what they taste like,” said Maddock.
As for what’s hot when it comes to beer, George at Budvar reckons that growth will continue for both beers from overseas and “speciality lagers”.
“Ranges are becoming more diverse and more interesting as consumers look away from the traditional staples of standard lager and national keg ales,” he said.
“Hot categories at the moment are world lagers with provenance, UK and US craft/niche beers, craft stouts and collaborative brews between more traditional brewers and overseas partners.”