What Does Craft Mean To You?

“Health is a relative term that means different things to different people – kind of like the term craft beer, right?” – Julia Herz, Craft Beer Program Director, Brewers Association

Words. They’re seemingly loaded with meaning and thrown around with no weight simultaneously. How do you handle words?

Exhibit A: Natural.

In the 1970’s in America, the word came on like a tidal wave. It was all the sudden on packaged goods and signs everywhere. Natural This and Natural That. What’s a consumer to do?! In a huge rush the shopping of food became a miasma of words, which at first felt meaningful.

Is a manufactured (intentionally planted) landscape natural? Is it crafted?

Is a manufactured (intentionally planted) landscape natural? Is it crafted?

Then, with everyone getting on the Natural boat, it began to get muddy. Muddy understandings, definitions, and meanings. What did Natural mean by 1980? Who was still using it and to what end? Here’s a thoughtful article on the term.

Exhibit B: Craft.

It’s the current counterpart to Natural. What does Craft mean?

Like natural and all labels and titles, definitions are somewhat elastic. They may be ‘defined’ by some organizational body or person, yet who gives them the authority to define a word that can mean different things to all different folks? And who’s to say we have to abide by them or adopt them as our own?

Craft is a buzz word in the alcohol beverage industry right now, and especially in the beer world. It’s a word I’ve used, questioned, and not used (in that order) since I got into the beer world professionally.

What’s in a word is up to the brain holder – you and I, our neighbors, colleagues, family friends and enemies. Who’s to say what a word can and cannot mean, as well as the sticky middle of “ya, but’s”….

To come up with my own definition of craft I look all around me, both at home and abroad. To me, well crafted is going to be more important than any otherwise-defined delineation of any word. It’s my word to use as I wish and I wish the meaning to be non-exclusive, though not necessarily inclusive. See my quandary? It’s neither here nor there, and it’s certainly not in between.

I’d encourage you to rethink your words and terminology. I’d suggest you focus on brands and what they are about, what they mean to you, and how they relate to your world. I’d recommend not using the craft word. From our research I can tell you that most women don’t have a universal singular definition of “craft” as it relates to beer. Size has little to do with quality (pun intended here).

Knowing that what is in your glass is well crafted with care is my go-to. What’s yours?

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The Power of ‘And’

Replace your ‘but’ with an ‘and’.”

This is some of the very best advice I’ve gotten in my adult life so far. It was delivered to me by a former (unknowing at the time) mentor and colleague when I was in the hardware business. I thank my lucky stars that Jack Anderson was so giving and we were in the same business.

Snails are slow and steady (get rid of the 'but')

Ever since that very day (it was poignantly also 9/11) I have indeed replaced ‘but’ with ‘and’ with great positive effect. I’ll never go back to ‘but’.

Try it out right now. Say something like “I really like it when XYZ happens, but I prefer if it were ABC instead.” Now replace it and say “I really like it when XYZ happens AND I prefer it were ABC instead.”

Ever has someone give you a review like this? “You know Kim, you’re great at this and that BUT the other thing needs some work.” How incredibly different it would be if it were instead: “You know Kim, you’re great at this and that AND the other thing needs some work.” It’s waaaaaaay more positive and productive.

‘But’ cuts down and negates when we usually don’t need to. Plus it’s been proven over and over that positive reinforcement is superior and more effective in encouraging desired results.  Besides who wants to have to deal their way through more negativity…

How does this reframe your thinking? It should change your entire world.

In the beer world and with what we specialize with per Women Enjoying Beer, it’s a very meaningful and impactful change.

Try these research based goodies on for size:

  • Women prefer beer with flavor AND the opportunity to try what they wish.
  • All people like flavor AND it should be up to women to pick what they want to try.
  • To assume women like any particular kind of beer is wrong AND clearly they can think for themselves.

The ‘and’ allows for improvement, open dialogue, constructive growth and a productive environment and situations.

Once you start replacement, ‘but’ should dramatically dwindle in all of your conversations. Why use it at all – especially since it’s so oft misused and unnecessarily used. Listen to yourself and other conversations and tell me I’m wrong (because I’m right).

While you’re at it, rethink ‘or’, ‘yet’, and other small and powerful words.

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Beer Vernacular: Everyday Language, No Jargon

Vernacular – using plain, everyday, ordinary language – is important in developing new market share, in women for sure; and we’ll take a stab that the same holds true for men as well.

Do you know what all these words mean?

When you can describe your goods, products and services with every day language, you’re educating and developing new enthusiasts. And when you’re educating new enthusiasts, you’re building new customers. And then you’re building new customers you are building your brand: The effort you have put much blood, sweat, tears and cash into.

Every day vernacular is a bridge that spans the question “who’s going to buy my beer” question. A rather critical question, yes?

Know that using every day language is not talking down or up for that matter to anyone. When you use terminology that everyone can understand, then your brand can in fact stand out.

Jargon quickly cuts people off so don’t use it with every day consumers. For those who may not know a word or two, they may ask or more often than not they won’t. They don’t want to look stupid or unknowledgeable in front of others and you, the beer professional. When they don’t ask and your don’t offer you’re increasing their likelihood that they won’t return simply because you didn’t figure out ahead of time that every day words are what you need to use.

By all means bring up a word that may not be common – just make sure you define and explain it. Like a spelling bee, use it in a sentence and make sure the audience comprehends the new term. Using new words for people can be very satisfying for both parties: you the giver, are educating in a positive way; and the audience gets to add another word they can use in their pursuit of the beer experience with confidence.

Some beer terms that can usually use defining with consumers include: wort, craft, gravity, mouth feel, body, and ABV (stay away from acronyms as much as possible).

Education is truly the key to progress. For getting more women into beer, for continuing the education curve for everyone who may be interested in your brands, and for yourself. When you recognize that you don’t know it all (no one ever will either) then you set the stage for more success and growth.

And we can all drink to that.

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