Brooklyn Brewery, one of the oldest and largest craft breweries in the United States announced last week to lay off an unspecified but reportedly “significant” number of sales staff. This marks a significant change in strategy, away from the traditional “hand selling” as also practiced by most of the other craft breweries and towards a more marketing driven sales approach.
The move also seems to show that the sales and distribution partnership network with Funkwerks Brewing in Fort Collins, Colorado and 21st Amendment Brewery in northern California's Bay Area which took effect January 1, 2018 did not work out as desired. In July 2017, Brooklyn Brewery took a minority stake in both breweries in order to increase sales and distribution of its products in other parts of the U.S. (inside.beer, 26.7.2017). The joint sales team included 70 salespeople and 90 brand ambassadors covering 38 states.
Instead of competing with a growing number of regional craft breweries in the U.S., Brooklyn has in the last years focused more on international markets, which already represent a majority of the brewery’s total sales, as Brooklyn president Robin Ottaway told Good Beer Hunting. The proximity to the Japanese Kirin brewery which holds since 2016 a 24.5% stake in Brooklyn, was certainly helpful for the international rollout of the brand (inside.beer, 12.10.2016).
Another new emphasis of Brooklyn is on diversifying the product portfolio with products other than beer. “We kind of see beer drinking and the people who enjoy drinking beer as a lifestyle and we think that there are lots of other ways that we can probably contribute to that,” says Kaitie Lynch, director of field marketing and new product development at Brooklyn Brewery. The company is going to launch a ready-to-drink (RTD) canned cocktail based on an Aperol Spritz that will hit the shelves in 2020.