The New York Islanders with Barn Rocker. The Buffalo Sabres with Labatt Blue and Gold. The New York Yankees and Pinstripe Pils. The list goes on.
Team-branded beer may not be the newest beer trend, but it is certainly garnering a lot of extra attention as of late. Barn Rocker, which was developed by Oyster Bay Brewing in 2014, has seemingly boomed overnight as social media has helped extend the reach of the Islander-branded brew. Other sports teams followed suit, offering game attendees something unique, something to feel good about and something to post on their social media accounts. And this trend hasn’t slowed, either, as new teams have launched their own collaborative beers throughout the last few years. Next up are the New Jersey Devils, who teamed up with Magic Hat to launch their own beer for the 2019-20 season.
“Sports teams are a business — they are always looking for additional revenue streams,” said Mary Jo Hardy, associate vice president of insights at FIFCO USA, which brews, packages, imports, markets and sells its brands through an independent network of wholesalers throughout the U.S.
And, she said, team-branded beers have become a way for franchises to enhance the consumer experience while it boasts the opportunity for fans to show off their loyalty — a win-win situation.
“Teams look at this as a revenue driver and a way to build brand equity, but it also does something else. It allows them to become a part of the consumer’s overall life, not just the occasion,” she says.
Experience, explains Hardy, is not just a buzzword anymore. It is the way that brands need to go to market now, as consumers are valuing experiences versus hard goods. However, she says, there is an exception to this rule.
“Yes, consumers are valuing an experience versus things, but they want to accessorize their experience. They are willing to spend money on things that will make the experience better or more Instagrammable, even if they will only use something once,” she says.
Team-branded beers fit this bill because not only are they a way to enhance the experience at the arena or ballpark, but it allows them to show off team pride while at home or out with friends.
“Drinking these beers allows fans to bring the experience outside of the game, making this another way to extend the experience. It’s a way for people to let others know they are a fan of a team and another way to extend their tribe,” says Hardy.
And while this type of branding can be done with other food and beverage items, Hardy notes that there is something about a co-branded, collaborative beer that makes consumers feel good.
“Consumers are delighted by partnerships, and sports teams and beer are something consumers can connect to. Beer is really fun. It brings people together and these types of collaborations are a really engaging experience,” she says.