License to Brew: 3 Ways Beer Partnerships Improve Brand Awareness

According to Global License, food and beverage licensing grew 9.5 percent representing $8.04 billion in licensed merchandise in 2010. It remains to be a growth segment today and increasingly you see it in brand extensions in the craft beer industry.

From Fulton Brewery and New Belgium Brewing to Brewery Ommegang and 21st Amendment Brewery, a number of breweries are partnering with big brands like Wheaties, HBO, Ben & Jerry’s, and Count Chocula to create craft beers to reach broader audiences.

Here are three ways your brand can improve consumer brand awareness with a strategic beer partnership:


1.      Get creative and forge authentic partnerships.

Just listen to these creative beer descriptions: 21st Amendment’s homage to Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts with its release of Toaster Pastry, an India-style Red Ale, New Belgium’s Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream inspired Salted Caramel Brownie and Fulton’s Wheaties and Hefewizten beer, HefeWheaties.

Although not technically a licensing deal, the Wheaties brand extension didn’t come out of nowhere. The idea for the limited-edition HefeWheaties came about because Fulton has close ties to General Mills, which owns Wheaties. It also doesn’t hurt that the two Minneapolis companies use the same raw ingredient in their products – wheat. The beer is available beginning today only in the Twin Cities.

According to New Belgium Brewing and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream they are two like-minded businesses, which have championed around similar causes and will do this together with their special Salted Caramel Brownie release once it’s released this fall.


2.      Leverage feelings about your brand.

Take the Wheaties brand. The brand has been known for featuring prominent athletes such as Caitlyn Jenner (then Bruce), Mary Lou Retton and Michael Jordan on its iconic cereal boxes for decades. Fulton and Wheaties are able to take the nostalgia and brand loyalty to create the “brew of champions” and inspire a new audience of craft beer consumers. Fear not, Wheaties is not actually in the beer.

For example, I’ve probably eaten Wheaties a handful of times and don’t even live in Minneapolis anymore, and I still want to get my hands on this beer!

Another example is HBO’s juggernaut series Game of Thrones, which has had a partnership with Brewery Ommegang since 2013. Together they’ve spawned five successful beers. This project was meaningful for both companies because they are passionate about creating each beer around the themes of the show and the beer is made with the same quality Ommegang makes all of its beer.

SL Grand Opening 001

3.      Create multiple consumer touch points.

Establishing multiple touch points for consumers in-store and off-premise builds brand awareness. To kick off the release of HefeWheaties at select retailers in the Twin Cities, Fulton is also hosting several events featuring the brew at its taproom.

On August 29, 21st Amendment will honor its new brewery space in San Leandro, California with inaugural release of its Toaster Pastry brew. The location of the brewery spawned the idea for Toaster Pastry because it used to be a former factory owned by Kellogg’s. The beer will be released in 19.2-ounce cans to retail stores.

The lesson here: Don’t be afraid to go after a partnership with another company that matches your brand’s authenticity. It will be interesting to see how these partnerships evolve in the coming year.

What craft beer company  and corporate brand would you like to see form a partnership?

 [Photos credits: and]

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