Marketing a Brewery

In instructor Nick Kastner’s graduate Marketing Management course, students are asked to complete a variety of case studies and to complete a marketing plan for an existing business. Within the marketing plan, students must address not only the company and its competitors to build a strategy – but also the context and external environment in which the company exists. Many times, students choose large organizations as data is easier to gather. MBA students Chris Donnay, Diana Laureano, Savannah Mowery, and Erin Williams chose a different option for their group – a regional brewery.

Left Nut Brewing (LNB), based in Gainesville, GA, was started in 2013 by Pap Datta. Datta left a career of corporate positions and transitioned his passion for homebrewing into a new career. Now – LNB is located inside one of the historic buildings in Chicopee Mills. Erected in 1927 by Johnson & Johnson as a textile mill, the building where LNB is located is registered in the National Register of Historic Places and was the nation’s first modern, light-filled mill building.

Since 2011, breweries in the United States have more than quadrupled. In 2019, the Brewers Association stated that there are now 8,376 breweries in the United States alone. The north Georgia region is no exception. LNB is only one of the many budding breweries and meaderies who are located throughout north Georgia. Red Hare Brewing, Etowah Meadery, Tantrum Brewing, Grumpy Old Men Brewing, and Fannin Brewing are just a few of the many organizations beginning to appear throughout the region.

So when MBA student Chris Donnay discussed options with his group, LNB was the first to come to mind. He reached out to owner Pap Datta and he immediately connected them with another member of the LNB team – Doug Dichting, SVP of sales of strategic relationships.

“Doug has been instrumental to this process,” said student and team member Erin Williams. “Throughout this process, he has remained in-contact through online meetings and their goals remain unchanged.”

While retail growth has gone well, Doug shared that there was a growth opportunity in sales in their taproom and restaurant in Gainesville. Plus, with COVID-19, the need to grow taproom sales once the pandemic has calmed will be critical for their future growth. The group was challenged to grow sales in the taproom starting this fall and to work to have their physical location be a larger percentage of their overall revenue in volume.

“We’ve been given a stretch goal,” said student Chris Donnay. “COVID-19 has certainly added some challenges – both in our efforts to plan for their future as well as stay organized with our team.”

“Having students experience how marketing plans change and shift as the situation changes is really important,” said Kastner. “While the COVID-19 pandemic has been horrible for many individuals and businesses, it has provided a learning opportunity for all of us and how to be better prepared for uncertainty in the future.”

MBA students presented their marketing plans on April 27th.