Today’s beer customers love to sample an array of different craft beers, including local and seasonal brews. To position themselves as a destination for beer, many convenience stores have added growler beer programs.
Growlers are usually 32-ounce or 64-ounce jugs that are filled with on-tap beer. Customers usually purchase the growler for a set fee and then pay to have it filled with the beer selection of their choice. Then later they bring back the empty growler for a refill.
If you are considering adding a growler beer program to your c-store, the first step is to ensure growler beer programs are legal for c-stores in your city and state. Growler laws vary by municipality. For example, in some areas, any glass bottle can be considered a growler, while in others, the retailer will need to offer branded growlers or plastic jugs instead of glass. In some areas c-stores don’t qualify for the offering at all. If your area allows your c-store to add a growler program, remember that you’ll also need to have employees available to fill the growlers for customers and explain the program to potential customers. Proper training for employees who will be filling the growlers is key. It’s important that employees know how to fill the growlers correctly to reduce foam and spills, which will ensure reduced waste and a quality product for customers.
Next, you’ll need to decide on the equipment and the number of taps that will work best for the space available. Some c-stores offer three-head growler stations while others have 12 heads or more. You’ll also need to decide how you plan to clean the growlers. Some retailers employ specific growler cleaning stations to ensure proper sanitation.
One of the biggest benefits to a growler program is signaling to customers that your c-store is a destination for local, craft and quality beer. So it’s crucial to source a beer selection that is going to appeal to customers. Speak with local breweries to see about a partnership to keep a revolving array of local brews on tap, including limited-time and seasonal offerings to keep customers returning week after week to see what’s new on tap. Some retailers work with a number of distributors to keep their growler program exciting for customers. It’s crucial to start by educating yourself on what your customer base prefers to drink, so you’re making informed decisions for your customers instead of relying only on distributor advice.
Once your growler program is up and running, don’t forget to market it to customers. Some ways to let your customers know about the new growler program include social media posts, special promotions involving the growler program and signage both in the forecourt and inside the store. Sales associates can also ask, “Did you see our new growler program?” at the checkout, and they should also be prepared to explain how it works.