According to the U.S. Brewery Association, in 2024, the volume of craft breweries’ sales grew by 8%, which resulted in small and independent breweries sharing 13.1% of the U.S. beer market by volume.

Furthermore, the Brewery Association report showed that, in the same year, the retail dollar sales of craft breweries in the U.S. increased by 21%, to a whopping $26.8 billion, and the sales now account for a little under 27% of the beer market across the nation.

Craft breweries have been rising in popularity for some time and they continue to grow at an incredible pace. Therefore, big businesses that operate in all kinds of industries are starting to sit up and take notice of craft breweries’ success stories.

Big businesses of all kinds can learn much from the small brewery industry. Here are ten essential lessons you should know about.

1. Small Breweries Put Quality First

While every business owner wants to make a profit, and small breweries have demonstrated that they are more than capable of turning a tidy profit, the majority of independent brewers are in the industry because of their love and passion for unique and flavorsome beers.

In turn, that means they put quality first. And seeing as they are small, independent companies, they have greater control over quality control than big businesses.

For small brewers, the most important thing is ensuring they have products of high quality that are affordable. If big businesses also put quality first, they could soon increase their sales and attain a higher number of loyal customers.

2. Collaboration Can Be a Good Thing


While big businesses have a reputation for being ruthless in how they compete against their competitors, small breweries take the opposite approach. They actively collaborate with one another to share secrets and create new flavors.

Quite simply, competition is not a prime concern of craft breweries. And because they have little concern about competition and instead embrace a sharing philosophy, they are not only successful in terms of attracting loyal customers and selling more products. They also enable and encourage new breweries to start and become part of their close-knit community.

Therefore, big businesses should forget old-fashioned ways of viewing competitors and instead look at ways in which they can collaborate.

3. Including Your Workers in Your Branding Can Enhance Customer and Employee Loyalty

Employees are often at the heart of small breweries’ branding.

Many independent breweries post photos and videos of their employees, working in real settings, to give their customers a peek behind the scenes and show how much they value their workers.

Small brewery customers then feel more connected to the company and its people on a deeper level. So, big businesses that show genuine employees in real settings throughout their branding could achieve the same kind of customer and employee loyalty that craft breweries do.

4. Small Breweries Know the Power of Unique Branding


Speaking of branding, craft breweries tend to use much bolder and more unique branding designs compared to big brewery companies. Small breweries also like to have lots of fun with their designs, beer names, and slogans.

They know that customers are bored of the same-old designs that use recognizable advertising techniques. In turn, they consider their customers more and come up with branding that suits their target audience.

You could take a leaf out of their book and look at ways to dramatically revolutionize your branding in a way that will appeal to your target customers.

5. It Is Often Worth Taking Risks for the Sake of Innovation

Following on from the fact that small brewers tend to use innovative branding, small breweries also like to be innovative in other areas, particularly in the flavors they create. They also understand that being innovative should often involve taking risks.

At the end of the day, if people do not like the taste of a beer, they will not drink it. So, brewers are always taking risks when seeking out and using flavors and styles that cannot be found anywhere else in the beer market.

But if products are to evolve, new things need to be attempted.

6. The Most Successful Small Breweries Know That Using Industry-specific Software Improves Workflows


This lesson should actually be a no-brainer for big businesses. The most successful small breweries know how important it is to use brewery management software like Ollie brewery ops software to ensure workflows run smoothly.

With Ollie, small brewers improve the way that they manage order processing, inventory, reports, payments, brewery production, and customer relationships. So, if your big business is not currently using industry-specific management software, it is high time that it did.

7. Genuine Passion Can Create Greater Customer Loyalty

We mentioned earlier how small brewery owners are passionate about their work. In turn, that enables them to attract loyal customers.

So, it is worth mentioning that if big businesses can demonstrate how genuinely passionate they are towards their company and its products or services, as well as providing customers with the highest quality, they could quickly grow their number of loyal customers.

8. Small Breweries Know How Important It Is to Include Customers in the Decision-making Process


Sure, big businesses will set up countless focus groups, send out endless surveys, and scrutinize customer analytics to understand what their customers think about their companies and their existing or upcoming products and services.

But small breweries are more personal and inclusive in the way that they include their customers in the feedback process, and they listen to them more, too; especially when it comes to creating new beers.

Including customers in the product development decision-making process is an approach that the small brewery sector has honed. In turn, it enables them to create high-quality products that their customers look forward to purchasing and enhance customer loyalty and satisfaction.

9. Small Breweries Are Leading the Way in Sustainability Practices

You really should care about the environment and take active steps to make the world an eco-friendlier place. But even if you do not care, you are sure to care that your customers are increasingly demanding more sustainable practices.

Most small breweries actively utilize sustainable methods, from distribution to electricity generation. Big businesses are already starting to switch to more sustainable practices. Make sure your business is not left behind.

10. Small Breweries Know How to Achieve Fast-growth


The last essential big business lesson you can learn from small breweries is simply this: by learning all of the above lessons, your business could grow as quickly as craft breweries are growing.