Academic journal article Journal of Case Studies

Scarlet Lane Brewing Company: Carving out a Niche in the Craft Beer Market

Academic journal article Journal of Case Studies

Scarlet Lane Brewing Company: Carving out a Niche in the Craft Beer Market

Article excerpt


Nick Servies glanced up from the latest sales figures of Scarlet Lane Brewing Company (SLB) and looked across the brewery floor to see his wife, Eilise, who had just brewed their latest batch of beer. Clad in work overalls and knee-high boots, Eilise had been brewing a batch of SLB's highly regarded craft beers named Dorian Stout. Nick still had trouble believing that his and Eilise's dream of owning their own brewery had finally come true. When Nick and Eilise opened their brewery in May of 2014, Nick knew that SLB was going to have to brew and market a high-quality beer in order to gain a foothold in the marketplace. However, they also had another point of uniqueness that they had hoped to use to create a differential advantage when compared to other brewers.

In a market where an increasing number of females drank craft beer, SLB believed it had an advantage in that they had chosen to position themselves as a 'gender neutral' beer, meaning their marketing efforts were designed to appeal to both genders. However, a research project that had recently been conducted by a student in a college marketing class had shown that 1) both bar owners and consumers were generally not aware of SLB's gender neutral positioning, and 2) being gender neutral had not created any sort of competitive advantage for SLB with either bar owners or consumers. Nick and the management team SLB now had to re-think their strategy on the best way to create a competitive advantage for their brewery.

The Founding of Scarlet Lane Brewery

Nick and Eilise had frequented a number of brew pubs during their days as students at Butler University in Indianapolis. A few years after graduation when Nick was transferred to Oregon for his job as a pharmaceutical sales representative, he and Eilise quickly became immersed in the local craft brewery scene and spent seven years in a state known as the heart of the Craft Beer revolution. In time they both had become increasingly disenchanted working for large corporations and had begun to seriously consider the idea of starting their own brewery. They took three years and studied the market, asked questions, and developed a solid business plan that investors could support. After experiencing some frustrations and disappointments, Nick and Eilise's soul searching led them to leave their dream location of Oregon and the predictable income and benefits of corporate employment to start their own brewery. They decided to relocate to their native state of Indiana and launch a brewery. Their vision was to create the finest Northwest beers in the comfortable confines of their home state.

After they had approached and secured the financial support of close friends on the concept, the business plan was put in motion to bring quality, Northwest-inspired ales back to Indiana. In late 2013 the necessary funds were raised and Nick and Eilise along with two Oregon teammates moved back to Indiana and began the process of launching Scarlet Lane Brewing Company. The name of the brewery came from the name of the dog, Scarlet, that had moved to Oregon with the couple and Eilise's maiden name, Lane. They chose this name as it worked for their marketing purposes and they felt that the name had helped to conjure up an Old English pub-type image in the minds of their customers in line with Eilise's admiration of Oscar Wilde.

Eilise decided to become a brewer after spending six years brewing beer at home and shadowing at some of her favorite Oregon breweries. She had become a brewer by going through a 28-week crash course from the American Brewers Guild in fermentation sciences and all things brewing. The course was made up of a broad range of subjects--such topics as chemistry, engineering, calculus, and biology. The course then transitioned into how all of these elements combined into the brewing cycle. The program was home-based with one week spent on-site in Vermont and eight weeks working in a brewery. …

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