Comparing hops to apples - How BrewDog are taking a leaf out of Apple's playbook

Since getting into craft beer last year, it’s been easy to keep an eye on what BrewDog is doing, especially when there is a BrewDog bar very close to where I live. The beers are delicious, the branding is great (since the recent re-brand) and the experience in their bars really helps pervade the idea that beer can be elevated to something way beyond Stella/Carling/Fosters.

The moment I first went into a BrewDog bar it really reminded me of going into an Apple store. Not the way it looked or the products they sold (obviously). But the approach.

Reading this article in Marketing Week today - BrewDog’s co-founder on how it matured beyond marketing stunts (Beware Paywall!), it struck me again that there is a similarity in the approach and attitude to Apple.

We’re still tiny. We’re less than 0.1% of the UK beer market. Craft beer overall is less than 1% of the beer market. For us it’s not about the size. We’ve always said to people: ‘Judge us on our beer.’ We’re selfish and we make the beers we want to drink ourselves – if we make 100,000 bottles a month or a million, it all comes back to the quality of what is in those bottles. James Watt, Co-Founder BrewDog

Without going into the well trodden exposition of how Apple works, they are a company completely and utterly focused on the quality of their product. Uncompromising some would say. But it is this focus which has brought them tremendous success. When Steve Jobs announced the iPhone at the now infamous (and probably most flawless) Keynote at MacWorld 2007, he said this, when talking about the mobile phone market:

Mobile phones, just about a billion last year, worldwide. So what does this tell you? What this tells you is, that 1 percent market share equals 10 million units. This is a giant market. If you just One percent market share, you’re gonna sell 10 million phones. And this is exactly what we’re gonna try to do in 2008, our first full year in the market, is grab 1 percent market share and go from there. So we’re gonna enter a very competitive market, lotta players, we think we’re gonna have the best product in the world, and we’re gonna go for it and see if we can get 1 percent market share, 10 million units in 2008, and go from there.

It’s like they’re saying the same thing. BrewDog are a much younger company than Apple, so of course they are a little more tenacious with the choice of words, (it helps get traction too!) but it’s the same thing.

You know Steve Jobs was saying much worse off camera about the competition. But it’s a fantastic strategy. Pick a massive well established market, make a product that is fundamentally better than the competition, and aim for a sliver of that market, knowing damn well that that sliver will deliver you the success you need to progress to the next level.

Time to invest in BrewDog I think.