The beer industry's sales reached $100 billion last year, according to the Brewers Association, a nonprofit that focuses on small and independent American breweries and represents more than 70 percent of the industry. While Anheuser-Busch Inc. (Budweiser, Michelob, etc.), MillerCoors and Pabst Brewing Co. remained the top three beer-selling companies, craft beer production and sales hit all-time highs last year with 15 million barrels produced and $14.3 billion sold. Today, there are more than 2,800 breweries in the U.S.—2,768 of which were craft as of last year's count, according to the Brewers Association.
This opens up an entire new sector of the beverage industry to pursue for promotional product sales. Promo Marketing spoke to Ed Yashinsky, general manager of Tröegs Brewery, a Hershey, Pennsylvania-based beer maker that produced 55,000 barrels of beer last year, about the brewery's promotional product purchasing. The brewery has three areas of business where promotional products come into play.
A few years ago the brewery relocated to its current facility, which boasts a 5,000 sq. ft. tasting room with a snack bar. While glasses, coasters, trays, etc., are necessary for that aspect, they're not a big portion of Tröegs promotional budget. "The thing is our pub is less than 5 percent of our business, so our main production business is selling to wholesalers, so the kind of things we need for those guys are completely different than what we need internally," Yashinsky said.
That tasting room, however, brings a lot of foot traffic to its retail store. T-shirts and hats sell well, but Yashinsky noted its bottle opener, featuring the logo of its popular seasonal, Nugget Nectar, is its top seller. "It's like a $5 item, and we sell literally hundreds per week," he said.
But it's more unique items that Tröegs enjoys offering. Even though the success of atypical items is hard to predict, Tröegs has found them to be popular, as was the case with the growler coolers. "We were kind of reluctant to buy [the growler coolers]," Yashinsky said. "We never thought that there'd be that kind of interest in [them], and I think the first three times we ordered them, we ordered small quantities because we weren't sure. And I think we were literally selling out in a week, so we had to step that up."