Little Creatures’ big impact

LOCAL boutique brewery Little Creatures is getting rave reviews on the other side of the country despite a fairly low-key profile in its hometown.

Little Creatures director Howard Cearns claims good media cover-age in Sydney and Melbourne, focused on the beer rather than the business personalities of the brewery, has helped develop a strong brand for the pale ale.

“What happened in the eastern states is we got very good publicity very early on in the piece. A lot of the publicity we got here was before the opening and kind of business oriented, “ Mr Cearns said. “In the east, because the people weren’t that well known, people concentrated on the beer.”

The Little Creatures brand also suffers something of an identity crisis in the local market in respect to the Little Creatures Brewery bar and cafe in Fremantle.

Local consumers associate the brand more closely with the hospitality venue rather than the product.

The bar and cafe caters to more than 5,000 people every week and interest in the Little Creatures venue has probably eclipsed some of the hype about the actual product.

“From a brand point of view, because we have a venue, a lot of people talk about that rather than the pale ale,” Mr Cearns said.

“And in July in Melbourne at the international beer awards we unexpectedly won the best Australasian Ale Award which, after six months of operating was fantastic and that set us up in the east very nicely.”

Support for Little Creatures came not only from the media in Sydney and Melbourne, but also from a number of chefs and restaurant owners at top establishments who embraced the beer.

Endorsement from industry opinion leaders is invaluable to building a product profile.

But it’s not just about building a strong profile, there are marked differences in preferences of beer consumers on opposite sides of the country.

“WA beer drinkers are a bit more mature probably because of what Matilda Bay did in terms of educating drinkers about different tastes,” Mr Cearns said.

“In the eastern states they’ve not been quite as well served in terms of beer education.”

Little Creatures is continuing to show strong sales growth and the wide appeal of beer delivers the brewer a highly diversified market quite different to the premium wine market.

“The premium beer market in Australia is probably about 6 per cent of the total market. We are probably looking at taking a share within a two to 3 per cent band of the market,” Mr Cearns said.

“The premium beer market has grown at about 20 per cent per annum for the past five to six years.

“Whereas wine drinkers tend to have high discretionary income, beer people trade up in all demographics… it’s less about those demographics and more about people who have an interest in beer and flavour.”

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