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Brewing Success: The Art of Brand Collaborations in the Beverage Industry

Featuring: Trevor Needle, Marketing Director at Four Peaks Brewing Company

February 8, 2024


In a world where the clink of glasses resonates with the buzz of collaborative innovation, the beverage industry is a testament to the power of partnership. Brimming with diverse flavors and rich histories, this sector finds its most dynamic growth at the crossroads of partnership. Trevor Needle, the Marketing Director at Four Peaks Brewery, is at the forefront of this vibrant landscape. His career journey, marked by strategic partnerships and innovative marketing initiatives, embodies the spirit of creative and strategic alliances. We had the privilege of sitting down with Needle to explore the nuances of brand collaborations in the beverage industry, studying how these partnerships create impactful market presence and resonate with consumers.

The Essence of Brand Collaborations

In the beverage industry, brand collaborations are not just about merging logos or sharing resources; they are about creating a narrative that resonates with consumers and stands out in a crowded market.

Introducing…Brand Collaborations

Brand collaborations in the beverage industry are a dance of creativity and strategy, where two or more brands combine to create something that neither could achieve alone. These partnerships, which range from limited-edition products to joint marketing ventures, are more than just business endeavors; they are a fusion of visions, bringing together the best of both worlds to captivate and engage consumers in new and exciting ways.

The Impact and Benefit of Collaboration

The true impact of brand collaborations lies in their ability to amplify brand visibility and reach. These partnerships can open up new markets and opportunities by tapping into each other's strengths and customer bases. They drive innovation, pushing brands to explore beyond their comfort zones and traditional boundaries. These partnerships also bring about operational efficiencies and cost savings, making them a strategic choice for growth and expansion. Ultimately, these alliances redefine the consumer experience, setting new trends and elevating the industry standard.

Spotlight on Trevor Needle and Four Peaks

The fusion of Needle's visionary marketing and Four Peaks’ rich legacy crafts a narrative rich in creativity and Arizona's spirited craft beer culture.

Trevor Needle: A Journey Through Marketing and Craft Beer

Needle's journey in the beverage industry combines passion, innovation, and strategic thinking. Born and raised in Arizona, Needle's path led him from ski instructing adults and kids alike in Flagstaff, Arizona to the heart of the craft beer revolution. From local craft breweries in North Arizona to the MillerCoors distribution in Colorado, Needle has seen and experienced all process steps: the brewery making the beer, selling to the distributors and finally delivering and selling to retailers. “I recommend working in wholesale if you’re interested in the beer industry. You get a front row to how beer is sold and all different sides of the operation that you won’t see fully from the supplier or retailer side.” As the Marketing Director at Four Peaks Brewery, he has played a pivotal role in shaping the brewery's marketing strategies, applying his experience of the tiered distribution system to elevate Four Peaks in the ever-evolving beverage industry and consumer base. His approach to brand collaborations has driven Four Peaks' growth and market presence.

Four Peaks Brewery: Crafting a Legacy

Four Peaks, a cornerstone of Arizona's craft beer scene, was founded in 1995. Four Peaks has grown from a local favorite to a nationally recognized name. The brewery's flagship beer, Kilt Lifter, a Scottish-style ale, epitomizes Four Peaks’ commitment to quality, becoming Arizona's most popular locally made beer. After joining the Anheuser-Busch family in 2015, Four Peaks has been able to share its beloved brews with a wider audience while continuing to innovate and honor the craft beer tradition. 

A Case Study in Collaboration - Four Peaks and Bad Birdie

In a unique melding of craft beer and golf apparel, Four Peaks and Bad Birdie, a brand known for its standout, comfortable, and performance-driven golf apparel, embarked on a collaboration to excite and entice their wide range of audiences, from young college students to older beer enthusiasts.

The Genesis of a Unique Collaboration

The partnership between Four Peaks and Bad Birdie started simply: a phone call. “I just picked up the phone and called them. I said ‘I’m the head of marketing’ and mentioned people I knew working there. I gave them a sincere and open pitch about what we wanted to do.” Needle’s pitch was straightforward: Bad Birdie has partnered with brands wanting to put their logo on Bad Birdie apparel. Instead, Four Peaks wanted Bad Birdie to put their logo on their beer. Focusing his efforts on the value and benefits Bad Birdie would reap from a partnership created honesty and trust at the start of the relationship. Bad Birdie would be able to reach the older demographic Four Peaks appeals to by being on shelves of the local groceries where they shopped and Four Peaks would reach the younger, loyal Bad Birdie fan base.

Navigating the Collaboration Process

Bringing the Four Peaks and Bad Birdie collaboration to life was a journey of strategic planning and creative brainstorming. The first step gives each brand the space to do their best. “Lean into each other’s core competencies. We told them [Bad Birdie], ‘You make apparel, so make it. We’ll make the beer.’ We had input on each other’s work but let each other have the creative freedom.” Layering in radical candor and trust in each other’s craft, Four Peaks and Bad Birdie stayed true to themselves while creating something new and unique between their brands. It can be easy to get into the weeds and step on toes of expertise and responsibility, Needle cautions, but trusting that you both know what you’re doing and can do it better together will create a seamless process to a rewarding deliverable.

Overcoming Challenges and Celebrating Successes

When you start incorporating unique teams in a single project, there’s always the potential for challenges to arise. However, you don’t expect to be the ones to get in your own way. Needle expressed his need to ensure they did things the right way before they built out a product and plan that potentially didn’t have the legs to last more than a season. “When you have something exciting, it’s hard to pump the breaks.” However, within the initial weeks of release, Needle saw initial success through positive responses on social. From a sales perspective, it isn’t about the initial product movement. “People will pick it up because it’s novel and new. It’s about, will they buy it again? Is it sticky?” Once the 90-day rate of sale report returns, Four Peaks and Bad Birdie can truly evaluate success and the ability to expand their partnership.

Parting Thoughts

The story of Four Peaks and Bad Birdie's partnership unfolds like a masterful blend of craft beer and innovative strategy, echoing Trevor Needle's advice on embracing professional opportunities in brand partnerships: “Say yes and be open to the moment and putting yourself to network and build strong partnerships. When you have a good opportunity and synergy between companies - say yes.” This narrative not only showcases the seamless integration of two distinct brands but also vividly illustrates how saying 'yes' to synergy and opportunity can brew remarkable success in the ever-evolving beverage industry.

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