Earlier this week, Scottish craft beer brewery BrewDog announced that it would be returning with a new equity crowdfunding campaign to raise a stunning £25 million- shunning traditional financing methods and banks in the process. Dubbed “Equity for Punks”, BrewDog said it would be offering shares at £47.50 each with a minimum investment of £95, entitling investors to an lifetime discount on BrewDog beers and bars as well as the opportunity to attend the annual AGM (Annual General Meeting). Earlier in 2013, the company successfully raised £4 million from a similar crowdfunding bid from customers. BrewDog co-founder James Watt said that “Equity for Punks puts the people who really care about our beer in control and keeps the passion and integrity in people’s beer glasses.”
BrewDog’s latest bid is a brilliant move from a customer relations perspective. Although the primary aim is to raise the necessary cash to fund new projects and growth, the campaign is essentially bringing like-minded people together to create a dedicated brand community and allowing them to invest and be a part of the company’s future. The group of existing and potential investors embody what a brand community is: ‘a specialized, non-geographically bound community, based on a structured set of social relations among admirers of a brand’ (Muniz and Guinn, 2001). The already 14,500 strong community of shareholders share the company’s vision and associate themselves with the brand’s anti-establishment identity and culture.
The new equity crowdfunding campaign will allow the company to realise their ambitious future plans such as building a new brewery as well as a craft beer-themed hotel. However, the value from the dedicated group of investors who have an equity stake in the company will be just as great as the funds looking to be raised who can provide important suggestions and feedback for the brand’s future strategy. The ‘brand community’ of investors will also act as passionate brand advocates and it is in their interest to promote BrewDog and its values as their return on investment is dependent on the success of the brand.
From a consumer’s perspective, a close look at the numbers show that they must be realistic about their goals of their investment, as BrewDog has no near future plans to go public, and that it is hard to determine the true value of the brand. However, for many dedicated fans the lifetime discount and their legendary punk AGM that features some high-profile rock bands may be enough to entice them. As one BrewDog lover noted to the Financial Times, it is “more of a beer club than an investment… The AGM lasts about 30 minutes, followed by a six-hour beer festival.”
BrewDog’s latest equity crowdfunding bid by appealing to their most dedicated customers to bring together a passionate community of BrewDog beer lovers is a brilliant strategy to build a closer relationship with its customers and among them as well- a move that, if successful, is likely to be imitated by other brands.
Thompson, B. (2015) ‘BrewDog launches record £25m crowdfunding appeal’, April 22, Financial Times
Muniz, A. and Guinn, T. (2001) ‘Brand Community’, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol 27, No. 4, pp. 412-432