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About Jubel Beer

Jubel Beer makes refreshing beer in peach and elderflower flavors.

Jubel Beer Headquarter Location

Cornwall, England,

United Kingdom

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How Jubel beer turned its business around overnight

May 4, 2020

4th May, 2020 by Edith Hancock Jesse Wilson, the founder of Cornwall-based brand Jubel Beer, went from selling three quarters of his products in bars and restaurants to championing e-commerce in less than a month. The evening of Friday 20 March was an epochal moment for the UK’s drinks industry. As Prime Minister Boris Johnson told bars, pubs and restaurants to shut their doors “as soon as they reasonably can”, swathes of brands lost their primary route to market. The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) showed that pubs lost 40% of their beer sales in March, when lockdown measures were only in place for 11 days. A recent YouGov poll has shown that, despite the closure of pubs and restaurants, the majority of Brits (57%) are drinking more or less as much as they were before lockdown. Indeed, 17% are drinking more. Meanwhile, retail sales of alcohol rose more than 30% in the first few weeks of lockdown, according to the Office for National Statistics. The BBPA even noted that off-trade beer sales were up 10.6% compared to March 2019. Granted, that rise does not counteract the losses. The BBPA said total beer sales in March 2020 were down 12.7% when compared to last year. But it does show that the consumer’s desire to buy alcohol hasn’t changed. All that has changed is where they buy it. Companies that are small and agile, or have plenty of cash reserves, are overhauling their business models with some promising results. Jubel Beer, a UK-based beer brand that launched in 2018, originally sold 75% of its products through bars and restaurants, but recently sent out a press release boasting that its online sales had risen “14000%” since lockdown measures were imposed. He told the drinks business he now sells around 10,000 bottles per week online. Granted, he was starting somewhere slightly above 700 per week, but there is no denying that consumers are as ready and willing as ever to buy the drinks they enjoy. The company had sold all of its stock listed on Amazon by April 7, less than three weeks after the on-trade has closed. “That’s increased week on week and that’s increasing significantly,” Wilson said. “Volumes are just increasing quite rapidly online really.” Falmouth-based Jubel is the creation of university friends Tom Jordan and Jesse Wilson, who came across a popular beer tradition in the Alps at an après ski bar known locally as demi-pèche. Supermarket Sainsbury’s started selling the 4% ABV fruity beer in 1,000 stores in 2019, and in the same year Wilson secured an investment from C&C Group, which makes Magners Cider and owns wholesalers Matthew Clark and Bibendum, helping it get a route to market in the on-trade. Cracks started showing in March. Festivals and trade shows were cancelled or postponed as coronavirus cases in the UK kept rising, and it became apparent that bars and restaurants would need to close to slow the virus’ spread. “We kind of did see things completely change,” Wilson said. The wholesalers he depended on stopped taking orders. Wilson needed to act fast if he wanted Jubel to survive. In mid-March, Wilson got his team of nine employees together to discuss all possible outcomes, and they put together a worst-case contingency plan. Ruling out any hopes that pubs would re-open, they managed to launch an online store on Jubel’s website in two weeks. “From the start of April we needed to have our foot on the gas” he said. Behind the scenes, Wilson’s team were scrambling to arrange reliable couriers and book out warehouse space so they could store stock destined for online sales. Staff who dealt with on-trade relations were redeployed into customer service roles. Drinks giants are also doing what they can to switch over to e-commerce. Bacardi launched a new service with Deliveroo on 16 March to help its on-trade customers sell cocktails to consumers who can’t go out to bars during lockdown, with participating venues including Shoreditch’s Callooh Callay, coffee cocktail expert Grind, whisky enthusiast Milroy’s of Soho, and Bristol’s Filthy 13 all now able to trade on the delivery app. “I think we’re all fairly tech adept because we have the luck of growing up in a generation where an iPhone is put in your hand,” Wilson said, but it also helped to have a small team that “just works really hard.” “We switched overnight to another courier – we didn’t have a customer service team and then quickly has to set one up – we didn’t have a fulfilment warehouse with the right licensing so we had to get that sorted.”   Digital marketing A lot of companies, such as Diageo, have scaled back their marketing budgets to consolidate losses, but there’s a case to be made for shelling out on digital advertising. Nielsen carried out a survey of 10,000 drinkers from 27 March to 17 April to gauge how and why consumers were purchasing alcohol in off-trade stores. The majority (69%) said they were buying brands they know and trust. Companies with well-entrenched brands can afford to cut back on marketing, but perhaps newer businesses could see that gamble pay off. Tom Harvey, client director and co-founder of marketing agency YesMore, told db that brands that are quick to reposition themselves and make consumers pay attention could “tap into an audience that they can keep loyal for years to come.” “Brands that were already focusing on getting direct to consumer right” he said, are benefitting from consumer behaviour changing “almost overnight.” The startup founder said he hadn’t tried ventured far into digital marketing before the lockdown, “so it was a case of adapting.” Step one was getting the brand messaging streamlined. “We saw, without being critical of other brands, some seemed almost opportunistic and that’s not how we wanted to come across.” The company has been using the hashtag #cratesofjoy on its Instagram posts to get a conversation going and boost volumes. Next on the agenda was making sure people know they can buy the beers online. “People have shifted between being able to drink in a pub to now maybe on the balcony – that need state has changed”. He paid small sums to boost adverts on Facebook and Instagram “just to get [our branding] in front of people.” When you are running a relatively new brand, you need to put your best foot forward, which is why Jubel currently operated roughly 90% of its online orders on next-day delivery. “If we’re bringing people to the brand we need to offer then a good experience.”

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