Podcast: Giles Mountford, Drinks Marketing Manager, Hall & Woodhouse

February 28, 2024 Sophie Colquhoun

This week on our podcast is Giles Mountford, Drinks Marketing Manager at Hall & Woodhouse.

This episode is a fascinating insight into what goes into product launches and how Hall & Woodhouse developed and launched their craft beers - their first new product in over 240 years.  Giles shares the behind the scenes on their launch from deciding what the product should be and look like, learning from their customer, how they got onto (and stay) on supermarket shelves, and standing by your customer insights.

This is such a fantastic conversation that we really think you'll enjoy on standing out and following what your customer wants, not what you think they want!

Listen to the full episode below or search Industry Leaders wherever you get your podcasts
You can also read the interview below: 

Sorcha O'Boyle: Hello and welcome to the Industry Leaders podcast. I’m Sorcha O’Boyle, and on the show with me today is Giles Mountford, Drinks Marketing Manager from Hall and Woodhouse. Now Giles has just led a complete brand refresh and when I say complete, I really really mean it, so we'll have to hear more about that later. But first things first. Giles, welcome to the podcast. How are you?

Giles Mountford: I'm very well, thank you. Thank you for having me.

Sorcha: No, we're really delighted to have you. So you have, I think it's fair to say, a slightly more complex business model than maybe we normally have. So I wonder could you just explain to us a bit about Hall and Woodhouse and how Badger and the Outland brands both fit into it?

Giles: Yes, of course. So Hall and Woodhouse as a business has been around since 1777, the same year that America was founded, so it's in sort of top 20 oldest companies in the world, believe it or not. And since its inception it has served beer to the masses effectively. So Charles Hall was a farmer who saw an opportunity and began brewing beer for soldiers in the Napoleonic Wars effectively, and that is where the Badger beer brand came from.

A long time ago, public houses were exactly that somebody's house and to denote the fact that they sold beer in Dorset, they would hang a picture of a Badger outside. So people knew when they're walking past, they could come in and get a drink, which was important because brewing beer was a way of making water safe to drink, in the same way that, in the Far East, tea is so important. It was to deal with water that was non-potable really. So the Badger brand, if you could call it that in the first instance, has been around for an incredibly long time.

On the back of that and those public houses, the business grew by launching its own public houses, its own pubs or, as we call them, just our houses, and so now it runs as both a hospitality business where we have around 56 managed properties across the south of England and about 110 tenanted pubs again all across south of England, all the way from Woolacombe in Devon to Parliament Square in London, and it runs as that hospitality business but also with the brewery still as a core tenant and we say the golden thread that runs through the business and we brew our beers exclusively for our estate so you can't buy them in the free trade or in other people's pubs, and that allows us to really keep a good eye on the quality, particularly around cast beer, which doesn't always travel well and needs a certain amount of love, care and attention to be served as well as we would like it to be.

Sorcha: And what about Algin then? What is that? When did that come into play?

Giles: So traditionally badger beers have been what you would call cast ales in the on-trade or premium bottled ales in the off trade, so the brown beers, as it were, rather than lagers or anything else. Now, cast beer has been sort of declining for some time, which is, you know, a macro trend related to the demographics of the country and drinking habits and all sorts of other things, and that obviously affects the premium bottled ale or PBA markets in the off trade as well. So in 2022, there was a decision made to look at the category, to understand the consumer better and to look for a new way forward. And that's not to say that we don't still love making our cast beers. We're really, really proud of them. You know, they win lots of awards and the PBA markets like I said, the off trade is still really, really big. But with that sort of trended decline, there was a point where we had to say, well, okay, well, what's next? Where can growth come from? And really the obvious answer to that was in the craft beer sector, which has shown such massive growth over the last sort of 10 or 15 years, and Outland is our entry into that category and, in fact, our first new brand in 247 years, I suppose.

Sorcha: Yeah, that's amazing, that's really exciting. So you were involved in kind of the launch of Outland, is that right?

Giles: Yeah, absolutely so. As I say, we started with the insight. It was really, really important to get a good handle on our customers and our guests, but also the category customer as well, because we can't just sell to the people that already like Badger. And that was a really key piece to think about, because I think it was very easy to just focus on that minority, as it were. Now, the beer category is huge and beer drinkers are quite promiscuous across subcategories, so they will drink lager, they will drink ale, they will drink craft, they will drink, you know, even cider as well. So there's an opportunity there to not just focus on that very, very narrow band of customers. And, as I'm sure you've talked about this podcast before, penetration is key to brand growth, and thinking in those terms allows us to speak to a much larger target audience and potentially grow that penetration.

Sorcha: Okay. So we've kind of got the picture, we've got the heritage brand, we have kind of the traditional cask beer drinkers. Could you maybe tell me, when you were kind of starting off in this whole brand refresh you know, the relaunch and everything what was it really important for you to get right? What were the kind of the customers you wanted to be talking to? How did you want to talk to them? How were you able to be confident that what you're going to do was going to be effective?

Giles: Yeah, I think it's a really good question and my short answer would be I didn't go into it with any idea of exactly what those answers would be. We needed to run a deep piece of research and really dig into the insight and let that drive where we took the brands. Now, my background is around insight and research. I spent six years with Dunn-Humby, who run Clubcard for Tesco, and then some time with Amia and a couple of other agencies, and so for me that always underpins everything that we do. We have to understand the consumer as tightly as possible. As soon as you sign that contract to work for someone, you are slightly tainted by your view because you are surrounded by this brand, surrounded by the information bombarded by it, and we can forget that the consumer or the guest in the pubs actually doesn't have any of that information.

So the research was really really important and we did two big pieces. We did a brand audit that was specific to Badger, where we talked to our current consumers but also category consumers. And again, it was good to get that balance because otherwise you just get a positive result, as it were, because you're asking people that already know and like your brand. And we also worked with the IGD, who are obviously a big research agency in the off trade and did probably the biggest piece of certainly ale and perhaps beer research in recent years to understand the category more broadly. And those two pieces together were really really key because we need to answer the question from a consumer perspective, from a retailer perspective, from a brand perspective, and not just within the product and the packaging, but also the customer journey and the way that they interact with the category in store. If you don't answer one of those questions, then there's a gap in that journey and that's where you can begin to lose consumers.

So we were really key on focusing on those and the outputs fell into three areas really. One was to celebrate Cask and PBA and take the learnings from this insight to revitalize and refresh our range. The second was about twisting into growth, which was moving into that craft area and understanding that we had the permission to play in that category, if that makes sense. And the third was about, like, say this, customer journey, so dealing with merchandising, communications and trying to bring the retailers on the journey with us because again, they are selling our products for us, if we could do everything right and if they are just placing them in a way that doesn't work for the consumer. It's not going to work. So you have to try and line up all these areas so that the sum of the parts is greater.

Sorcha: Yeah, okay, there's loads there that I want to talk about, so let's start with the permission to play in twisting into growth. What does that actually mean?

Giles: Well, I think it's fair to say Hall and Woodhouse and the Badger brand. They've been around for 247 years. We're a small to medium size business. We're relatively traditional, and that's very different to where most craft brands come from, certainly in the minds of a lot of consumers. You know, they see the founder-led, passionate, small nimble brewery that starts, you know, in a shed or under some railway arches and is going up against the big guys and then carves out its own niche.

And so what we didn't want to be was sort of dad dancing in that category, is it? We're pretending to be something that we're not. So I think consumers see through that kind of thing. You can't falsify quality and credibility, and so we wanted to be very sure that this was the right thing to do. There's always opportunity. Whether you should go after it, whether it's right for you as a business, is, of course, another question.

To add to that, when we touched on more craft like products in previous years before I arrived, the feedback, particularly from sort of buyers etc, had been a little bit we're not sure about Badger as a craft brand. We're not sure consumers will accept this. So there was already this slight reticence, I suppose internally, on whether we should do this. However, as I alluded to before, the research and the insight really put that to bed because, again, it's one of those things as brand owners, we think about our brands a lot and we think consumers think about our brands a lot and a lot of the time they don't. They know what they like, they know what they don't like, and we try and carve out a little bit of space in their lives, but they've got far more important things going on, it's fair to say. So, like I said, we investigated all of that. We had no feedback from consumers saying we don't think you should do this, it doesn't feel right, and on the back of that we decided that it was something that we could go for. You will see on the cans that while the brand is called Outland, we do say from the Badger Brewery, because, again, we didn't want people to pick it up and then find out separately that it was from Badger, from Hall and Woodhouse, and feel like they'd been somehow cheated or we were pretending to be something we're not. And similarly, we're proud of our heritage, we're proud of our brewing credentials and, without putting the Badger Brewery on the can, it is a brand without a home, it has no anchor point, and so finding that balance between a sub-brand versus an endorsed brand, etc was really, really important, and one that drove a lot of our decision making in the first weeks.

Sorcha: And then, once you had kind of made that decision to move into that kind of growth phase and you kind of came down to the actual nuts and bolts of the rebranding, what was important for you to kind of capture in that rebrand, I actually think that your products are really, really eye catching. I really like the designs in them, and they don't look like there's something out of a heritage brand, so you've really moved away from that identity.

Giles: Yeah, that's kind, thank you. Like I said, there's two parts. Is that the Badger refresh in some ways was more difficult because you're dealing with something that already exists, that people have a love and affection for, and we're still a fully independent, family-owned business. One of our biggest beers was brewed by the father of a non-exec, who is still on the board so it's not just a fully commercial decision for everything that we do. We have to balance it with that piece as well, but that's also what makes this unique. It's rare that anyone is fully independent these days, aside from the little guys. Certainly, some of the bigger players don't exactly allude to the fact that they're semi-owned or fully owned by some sort of big multinationals, but there's not much independence left in that area. So what do we want to do? Well, you know, we had some clear outputs from both the brand audit that was specific to Badger and also the category piece, and they were very aligned.

The category's been around a long time, and you're bound to get common themes running through all of it, and what we found, particularly from lighter buyers, is that they were kind of put off by the complexity and how hard it was to decode packaging. They didn't really understand styles or taste profiles. The dark bottles make it hard to understand what's going to be in the bottle. You know, we're very visual creatures and if we can see something that's light coloured versus something that's dark coloured and we want something light and refreshing, we will take the colour as a cue for that and also the product offering. People were concerned about strong flavour, heavy texture. Even the 500ml as a size is quite large and that's a barrier to trial. And, like I said before, the merchandising people found the bay very hard to navigate and described it as a massive brown bottle.

So thinking about all those areas is like how can we answer those questions? So the basis of the rebrand wasn't okay what can we do that looks great, that's really fun, that's cool or anything like that. We were answering specific questions from the consumer and that was to make the bottles more unique and engaging, to bring some vibrancy to what's a fairly muted category and to really bring clear signposting. So you'll see, on the new bottles we're very clear on the product name, the product style and also, at the bottom, some really clear tasting notes which are written with the consumer in mind so we don't lean in too heavily to the exact hops and the way the beer was brewed and then ask them to translate that into what they think it'll taste like. We tell them it's going to taste of hints of elderflower or you know, with moreishly hoppy notes. It's really really sort of clear and concise and then we can go into more detail on the back for those that are really interested. So it's finding that balance and taking away those barriers to trial and thinking more broadly than just our industry and people that are really into these beers.

Sorcha: Hmm, sometimes heritage brands can find it difficult to balance their history and their brand identity with this push towards innovation and creativity. How have you found that balance and how did you bring the stakeholder team along the journey with you?

Giles: Yeah, it's a really difficult question and a really hard thing to do. The way I think about it is that our heritage is who we are. It absolutely underpins everything that we do, but we also don't want it to be an anchor and we also have to consider how much of it is really really engaging to consumers. In starting this piece of work, obviously looking at a lot of competitors and a lot of their websites, every single ale story starts with we've been brewing since 1880, 1920, 2010. It's not something you can actually really own, so it's not always a point of differentiation within the category, but it is still important.

So the way we sort of think about it is to say we all like historic houses, we all want to live in a nice period property, but we'd really like double glazing and central heating. So it's about taking the architecture of the past but updating it in a way that we can build on for the future. And finding that balance isn't always easy. And, like I say, if you go back to the research, that allows you to make decisions based on what consumers need and want, and then there's just a lot of hard work in the briefing and the creative to bring that to life in a way that is both contemporary but also pays homage to our history and everything that's come before.

Sorcha: And did you ever have a moment where you were worried that you were losing a bit of that brand identity in that heritage?

Giles: You always worry. If you don't worry, you probably don't care enough. And, we did get some pushback from some customers that have been with us for a while. But you have to take that on the chin. No one's going to like everything. We all read the papers. They love a story about a big brand getting a refresh wrong and all that sort of thing. So you know it's coming and that it's not always easy. But, like I say, I stand by the insight. And what will that do for the brand, but also the business commercially? It's important to balance those two things and not just do it for the sake of it, because it looks cool or because it's fun or whatever.

This is about selling more beer. This is about building a brand for the future. And if you always keep that in mind and when you're presenting and when you're thinking about how you take this internally and to your buyers, that then is a much more compelling argument. What will this do for the brand, for the business in the future? Not just for the brand in some sort of slightly nebulous way?

Sorcha: I really like your analogy of the period with the double glazing.

Giles: Yeah, I like an analogy. And again, for storytelling, even internally and I don't buy into a lot of the modern jargon about storytellers or with chief joy officer or all that sort of stuff, because I think it's just, it's euphemisms, really, isn't it but you need to take people on a journey both across a long period of time and within whatever presentation or paper that you're writing, and I've been caught out a couple of times using marketing speak and being sort of too detailed in that way and you know that goes to the finance director or the MD and they just go, you know what is this? You need to be able to talk other people's language and make it really, really clear, and I found in my career that analogies can work quite well.

I think, having started, like I said, Dunhumby and working with lots of different clients everyone from the Royal Opera House to Nestlé and dealing with relatively sort of complex ideas within the, you know the insights and the analysis that we would do for them. You had to be able to give them the core nuggets, as it were. The details are really important, but what's the headline, what's the key takeout from all of this? Because we are awash with data, with insight, with everything and being able to cut through that is actually really, really difficult part. Go back a few years and getting the data, getting the insight, was really hard, but now there's thousands of agencies scraping data from all across the internet, from all across sales, packaging it up, repackaging it, cutting it, working with it and trying to understand that and where you can get real insight and real answers from isn't always easy, I think.

Sorcha: Yeah, absolutely. That's the idea that eternal problems move.

Giles: Well, yes, too much of a good thing maybe.

Sorcha: And actually, did you write the copy in-house or did you get an agency for that?

Giles: So we work with a really good designer package agency called Robot Food who are based up in Leeds. They did the core packaging, the core copy, tone of voice, brand guidelines, etc. They've got some good experience within the beer market. They were quite challenging when we were talking through the initial concept, which is what I want. I'm not a creative. I don't want an agency to do what I say. I want them to challenge, to translate, to be the experts. In the same way I go to the garage and I tell the mechanic what noises my car's making, I don't tell them to put X, Y and Z parts on it. I have to trust them to be the experts. And I think trusting people to be experts, both within your team business agencies, is really, really important, especially these days when there is so much to know. As a marketer, we deal with finances and creative and insight and team management and a whole swathe of things, and you can't be an expert in all of them. Meta changed their search and targeting algorithms almost weekly, so you haven't got a chance. You need a digital expert that can stay on top of that as best as they can and, as a leader, you need to know that you can trust that person and give them the space to do that and to work, and that's the only way to do it.

Sorcha: And how do you go about building out that kind of team then, of all this kind of separate that must have a challenge in itself, kind of having your very lean in-house team and then like one full of their agencies who maybe are telling you different things, how do you figure out what's right?

Giles: I mean, it's a big question. Try and think of my agency as an extension of the team. That's really key. And if I have a new agency or we're briefing or something new, I will overtly say the sort of things I said to you just now. You know this is the information we've got on how I've put it into a brief. I want you to bring your expertise and your thoughts and ideas as well and challenge me if I'm saying diametrically opposed things in one section or another if it's trying to do too much and we'll end up doing none of it. I want people to challenge me and to say that if that's different to the team, then we'll have a discussion. What do I want? I want us to do the absolute best work possible.

If that means saying I was wrong about something or we have to do a U-turn, or whatever it might be, then you know I'm comfortable with that. We have to be agile, and we have to be robust, as it were, in how we feel about work and what we do. There's no place for ego. I think that's really, really important because otherwise you might saddle up to a new business and go right. Let's change everything, because I'm trying to prove my worth, as it were. But your worth is much more important if you continue with something that is getting some traction and consumers are beginning to understand there's a time for change, absolutely. But if you're not bored to the back teeth with your marketing, then you've not been doing it enough. Just because, again, we see it every day. We see our taglines everywhere. You know you close your eyes and they're stamped on the inside of your eyelids, but the chance of the consumer might have seen it once or twice. So again, you've got to step out of your bubble and try and think of it from the other side.

Sorcha: Yeah, I so strongly agree with that because it's so tempting, isn't it, to kind of change your campaign after two months. I do you just think of it. But you're so right on that last bit.

Giles: Yeah, what are we here to do? We're here to create brands and build a customer pool for future sales. Let's say the keyword is sales. That's what businesses thrive on and that's what our ultimate goal always has to be. We're past the era of cheap borrowing. We're past the big financial crisis. We're out of that time where there was less accountability through the technology that's out there, we have to be accountable and we have to make sure that what we're doing is something positive for the business from both a brand and a commercial perspective, and I think that's really important in modern day marketing.

Sorcha: Yeah, and I find Kraft quite an interesting category because you know you have your classic craft drinker who maybe has a mandolin, you know that kind of person, but he's not necessarily actually your main consumer group, I imagine. But for someone who's kind of curious and maybe wants to explore a little bit, how do you convince them to pick up an Outland beer and not a BrewDog because you've got those big, big hitters in your market, which is quite challenging, I imagine.

Giles: I guess that's the million-dollar question for any marketer in any category unless you're the, you know the leader and the craft category is BrewDog. They are about 60% of that category and so the mental awareness that consumers have of that brand is absolutely massive. The first thing to do is again to think about the consumer. Like I say, we've got our Badger brand, which is our more traditional sales, and that is one consumer, and Outland is for a different consumer, a different occasion, and we have to think about it differently. So the real key to what we're trying to achieve with Outland is to be a category entry point, really, craft is mainstream now, it really is.

I have a couple of slides and some of my decks that say this is not our consumer and it is that sort of cliched craft drinker. You know, beard and tattoos and whatever else. The average craft drinker is 40 to 55 years old, abc one slightly wealthier, etc. Etc. It's really quite standard. It's Mr Friday night shopping in Tesco. It doesn't get much more mainstream than that and that's fine. And that, again, due to the category lifecycle, that meant that we could insert ourselves in a credible way because it's at that sort of mainstream time. And so what we've done with the brand and the packaging is maintain those category cues around design and colour but, just like the PBA, we've made them really really simple to understand. So all our beers are named what type of beer it is. We have a West Coast IPA, we have a hazy IPA and below that on the can, you have three tasting notes front and centre. So it's really really simple to understand. And then the ABV, because these are the things that were brought up as barriers to trial. People were concerned that they would pick something up and not like it and you're spending £3, £3.50 on something these days. That's a problem. They were concerned that they're going to pick something up, have one can and fall over because they hadn't realized it was eight or nine percent. And so we put the ABV front and centre and we again we talk in a language which is about the person in the street, not the person in the forum. That's the mindset that we try and keep. I think as an industry we can be a little inward looking sometimes and think about what we know and how we understand beer and that's not the consumer. In fact, when we did another sort of small piece of research, when we were looking at our SEO, we found that the most googled beer terms are all questions what is an IPA, what is a stout? Because people just don't have that knowledge and taking a step back to understand that and then work to help the consumer is really important is exactly what Outland is about.

Sorcha: Yeah, that's kind of a point that you've brought up in different ways a couple of times. So you've spoken about how marketers can be kind of really saturated in a brand and you see the brand you enjoy every day. There's that thing of kind of being in an industry and just you think about that industry the whole time. So that's obviously something that you're really really aware of. And you've spoken before about being the stupidest person in the room. Could you tell me a bit about that, because I like that term.

Giles: Yeah, exactly, it's about just saying you are not the customer, which should be written in big letters above every marketing department in the country. Really, you've always got to take yourself away from your desk, out of the brewery, out of the factory, whatever it might be, and say what is my consumer thinking, how are they understanding this brand, how are they understanding this category and how can I help them? And the more you know about brand or your product, the harder that becomes, because you begin to assume that people know stuff and it's highly subconscious. But unless you make an active sort of decision like, say, to be the stupidest person in the room, then I think it's a really easy trap to fall into.

Sorcha: Yeah, for sure. And how have customers reacted to the brand refresh? What have you heard from them?

Giles: So for the Badger refresh, it's been really positive, particularly from, like I say, those lighter buyers, those people who are not sort of hardcore Badger fans already, which is exactly what we wanted. There was obviously some pushback, should we say, from perhaps some of our more traditional customers or those who've been with the brand a long time, which is never easy. But again, I pre-empted this with internal stakeholders and the board and said, look, we will get some pushback on this and if we don't, then we'll know that we haven't actually pushed this brand refresh far enough and we'll be in the same position in two- or three-years time. So managing those expectations was as important as getting the brand out there really. So, yeah, really positive. For example, Waitrose now stock all of our beers brand blocks together, which we haven't had for a decade, and when you consider the most powerful thing that drives the sort of buying decision is the constant multi-buy in this category, having your brand together, you know, with this increased vibrancy et cetera, that's going to really really help people just pick up one more of our beers within those four that they choose. So that's been really positive. On the craft and Outland side, we obviously did some testing of the packaging before going live. And again it answered those questions, those barriers to trial, about the consumer understanding what it is that they would be buying, and people felt that it looked crafty and that it fitted within the category, which is obviously important as well, and on the back of that it's been a great success.

You know, we've just gone live in Tesco and up to sort of 450 stores with that, which brings total sort of distribution to around two, two and a half thousand stores across the country. Obviously we sell to our own estate and then swapping out the IPA that we made previously for our West Coast IPA not terribly dissimilar products but very differently branded. In the first six months we saw about 38% increase in volume and that's because when you get to the bar you can understand what it is and you know you're not sort of put off by going oh, not sure what that is and Dave asked for an IPA, but is that an IPA or is that something else? It just makes it that decision making really, really easy and that, like I say, has driven a lot of what we've done.

Sorcha: Yeah, for sure. And we talk a little bit about how you kind of find that balance between direct consumer sales through your wholesale and then also your hospitality. How can each of those channels support each other? Because I think in some businesses it can be a little bit siloed, but because you're such a longstanding business I imagine you're fairly well knit at the stage.

Giles: Yes, it's still a tricky one because the hospitality side of the business what drives that is, covers and food really is the sort of key profit driver and so obviously they have a lot of focus on that and guest experience and as a beer brand on the bar we're just we're at one part of everything that they do. So you always have to bear that in mind. We can't just go marching in with a big size 10s and then do whatever we want, because that wouldn't be right for the company as a whole. But they've been incredibly supportive of both the Badger Refresh and Outland and that's been really, really nice to see, because that kind of feedback has come from the floor up you know, the guys behind the bar, all the way up through the business where people have got really excited and really behind the brand and again, it's what the guests had been asking for. So in many ways it's a no brainer. You follow the market. If there's an opportunity there, let's take advantage of it.

Sorcha: And do you get much opportunity to bring your marketing team onto the you know, I don't want to say the shop floor, but like into the bar instead of an opportunity.

Giles: It's the same old, yes, but should do more. Again, it's just another way of collecting insight about your guests, really, and also how the team in the houses react and work with your products. It's always difficult, time wise. Until recently we were a team of two people, so you know running the day-to-day marketing, also doing this full refresh, launching a new beer brand in both the on and the off trade, so we're lean, it's fair to say. That has its advantages. In some ways you could be a little bit more agile, but there was a lot to do and certainly I should get out more. We should all be with our customers, with our consumers, as much as possible, even if it's just sort of lurking in a slightly creepy way and seeing how they pick beers off the shelf or how they interact with the team behind the bar and their sort of decision making. It's obviously anecdotal, but it adds colour to the sort of quantitative work that you've done previously, and I think that's really really useful.

Sorcha: Yeah, for sure. And am I right in saying that you recently launched your first TV ad as well? So, like I mean, really you've done everything.

Giles: Yes, I was quite tired by the end of last year, but in a really good way. You know, what we achieved, not just as a marketing team but across the business, was incredible, and it really is a multi-faceted piece. You know, we need the brewery to make great beers, which they do. We need the sales guys to sell it in, we need logistics to make it all work. And I tried to never forget that I can't act unilaterally. I can't sit in an ivory tower and go we should do this, we should do that. When you're, a business is complicated, as with manufacturing and hospitality, you have to think of all the different areas, and that's really, really important for getting things through. Otherwise they just are a bit pie in the sky.

Sorcha: Yeah, for sure. So, with that in mind, you know that you've done this huge bit of work on the refresh. You've got it out into the world. It's in Tesco, it's in Waitress, it's all over. How are you going to drive this forward now? What's the focus on in the next year?

Giles: Yeah, I think it's about consolidation. It is the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end. Effectively, it's great getting a listing in Tesco, but you've got to keep it. So we've got to keep race sale up and we've got to make sure that consumers are buying it within Tesco and within all these other stores as well. So really the key for us is that we dealt with the physical availability. We've got some good distribution. It's about building that mental availability so that when people are standing at shelf they have some recognition of our brand. To your point about BrewDog before, why should they choose us over them, especially if they've not heard of us at all?

So in some ways it's quite an old school way of thinking about marketing, but we need some awareness, we need saliency, and then we've got the physical availability, pricing, and promotion out of our hands to some degree because it's set by the retailers so we just need that little spark so that when you've got a customer in the white-hot crucible of the BWSR on a Saturday afternoon and they've got a toddler hanging off their leg and they're running out of parking and they've got split seconds to make a decision, they pick our beer because they have some idea of what it is. And again, to go back to the simplicity of the packaging and the communication, we want to think about the shopper as well as the consumer, because they're not always the same person. And a really interesting little nugget that came out of our research said if I go into store and I'm supposed to be buying a box of Peroni, for example, and they're all sold out, I feel comfortable in substituting that for another premium lager. But when it came to PBAs and craft as well, the same sort of feedback was I don't know what to substitute something for if they don't have the thing that's on the list, because they were hard to decode and hard to understand. So again, with both brands, keeping real consistency across the products so that if we know someone likes the brand and one product is out of stock for whatever reason, they might be able to switch into another. So again, it's just thinking from a consumer's perspective, removing barriers and making that purchase easy really.

Sorcha: And do you find that your customers are open to try, say, if I like an IPA but I've never tried the brilliantly named first two ferrets, I've never tried that. Are they generally open to that? Or do they like what they like and they stick with it?

Giles: Annoyingly. I would say they probably do both. People tend to have a sort of core favourite. So within the PBA category, let's say that most supermarkets run a four for seven pounds and the average basket tends to have a couple of favourites or three favourites and one slightly more interesting product because it gives them that opportunity to trial something. And again, that fits our sort of strategy within PBA where we have Thirsty Ferret and Golden Champion, which are our core products. They have the biggest distribution; they drive the most volume. We look at them as sort of cash cows. We work with them in quite a simple way, what we offer as a brewery within our other products is some of that interest and innovation that consumers said were missing from the PBA category.

Having those bits allows us to meet two sets of consumer expectations. And one thing that we really learned from the craft category, which is separate but obviously there's crossover, is that newness is really really important to these customers. You have to embrace churn effectively. Previously we've had a panic when there was a potential for a D list, as it were, but now that's sort of part of the life cycle of products and that's why you see so much NPD particularly come through craft and we're trying to bring, obviously, some of that to craft, because that's how we have to play and that's great, but also to PBA, because that was one of the things that consumers said was missing from that category, and we have a great history of doing interesting and innovative beers and last year we launched a coffee stout called Master Stoat, which has had great reviews and is selling really well and it brings something new to that category, so we'll continue to do that.

Sorcha: Yeah, that's really interesting Because I mean, the reason that you are one of the oldest businesses you know, coming from the Napoleonic Wars, is because it's a business that is innately innovative. It's kind of what I'm hearing that you are brave enough to embrace that churn and try out those new products. When you're having those discussions with stakeholders over brand and trying these new things, is there a culture of that kind of innovation or is it something that you as a team are always trying to bring in? How does it work?

Giles: I think it's a really an interesting question and I think it's something that perhaps had died off a little bit in recent years, perhaps due to, like I say, the downward trend in cask beers, which is what we were making, and so what it really needed was this bit of spark, this excitement, to get that moving again and not to bang on about it but, like I say, the research and the insight gave everyone the confidence that it was the right thing to do and that we could make it work. And also, the market has changed a lot in the last decade. Like I say, craft beer has gone from almost nothing to an enormous category, and also what they've done is put the PBA category in stark relief. So suddenly you've got all this vibrancy and colour, all this innovation. It's, like I say, seen as a sort of like younger person's product. It's not so sort of dated and old, wooden and all that kind of stuff which sort of accelerates the way people look at other things. So, yes, but there's macro changes, there's internal changes, there's all sorts of things that drive that, but it's really, really key. And actually, when it comes to innovation, the other thing that's key is to not just think about liquids and beers. It's around packaging, it's around channels, could be even around categories, who knows. But it's something that has to be constant and has to keep running, because otherwise, by the time you realize there was an opportunity, it's already behind you.

Sorcha: Yeah, for sure. And just before we wrap up, if I was to go out and try one of your beers, which one do you recommend?

Giles: Well, it depends on the occasion you're buying for, because, again, we know that they're very different. If it's a more low energy sort of occasion, something within the badger range, like I say, our classic thirsty ferret is an absolutely wonderful beer. The Master Stoke Coffee Stout it's got great flavours of, like, say, coffee and toffee, and is really really interesting. A little bit more high energy than you might be in our Outland range, in which case the West Coast IPA that's just launched in Tesco is an absolute classic West Coast IPA. You know it's got that sort of citrusy piney flavour. It's 5%, so it's not too strong. If you look at something more sessionable, our Hazy IPA is 4.2% and brings a bit more sort of fruit and mouthfeel. So there is something for everyone in the range, I think it's fair to say. If I was going to pick one, maybe the West Coast IPA, to be honest with you, or if you come straight to our website, the peach lager we make is absolutely incredible and I had no real interest in it. It wasn't something I thought I would like at all. Then I tried some at an event, and it was my drink for the entire event. It's so, so good, really, really refreshing, got a beautiful aroma of peaches and there's no sickliness to it which you might imagine. So it's an absolutely beautiful product and we're hoping to see more of it in the future.

Sorcha: Brilliant. Okay, so that's the Golden Glory.

Giles: Yeah, well, we've got two. We've got Golden Glory, which is our peach PBA, which we've been making for 20 odd years, so we were very early to the peach trend which is out there now. But we also, under Outland, make a pure peach lager which is available on our website, just to get that plug in there.

Sorcha: Brilliant. Yeah, we always love a plug. Listen, Giles. Thanks so much. It was great talking to you.

Giles: Absolutely, pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Sorcha: That was Giles Mountford, Drinks Marketing Manager from Hall & Woodhouse. That's it for now. So for me, Sorcha O’Boyle and all of us at more2, take care and bye, bye.


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