The media and brand strategy behind Australia's new craft industry player

Mighty Craft marketing and retail director details the digital approach, brand fundamentals and ecommerce capabilities driving her growth plans

Digital capability, the right agency partnerships and solid brand fundamentals are on the priority list for Mighty Craft’s marketing and retail director as she works to fuel sustainable growth across the Australian craft industry player.  

Mighty Craft positions itself as an accelerator and aggregator for craft brewers and distillers, providing leadership, capital, operational and supply expertise. The group listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in December 2019 and has both invested in as well as fully acquired a number of players across beer, cider, spirits and RTD categories. These include Jetty Road, the Adelaide Hills Distillery Group and 78 Degrees gin brand, Kangaroo Island Spirits, Seven Seasons, NoSh Boozy Seltzer, Mismatch Brewing Co, Slipstream and the Hills Cider Company.  

In all, 14 brands now sit under the Mighty Craft portfolio. Joining the group five months ago, it’s been Jane Wecker’s responsibility as marketing and retail director to create scalable and efficient marketing and retail foundations to drive each brand’s growth.  

She told CMO the level of support needed varies. With Ballistic, for example, the Mighty Craft team provides sales and supply chain capability but not marketing. With other businesses, HQ is providing an end-to-end service including marketing. To achieve this, two-year-old Mighty Craft has been scaling out its operational capabilities.  

“The first stage was getting the foundations set up in sales and distribution, as well as our distribution network and footprint and supply chain,” Wecker explained.  

Jane WeckerCredit: Mighty Craft
Jane Wecker

The group also recognised the need to invest in brand and build strong brands for long-term sustainable growth and shareholder value. So Wecker’s first task has been to set up the structure and capability of her team.  

Having spent 10 years prior to joining Mighty Craft at Procter & Gamble, she brings a strong brand background to the task. Building the foundations for each of the brands in the portfolio is another no-brainer.  

“Many of these brands have been started by passionate entrepreneurs who have amazing ideas and have created these brands. But they don’t necessarily have skills in consumer targeting, building brand equity or how you build your points of difference,” she said. “It’s about understanding where to focus attention across the 14 different brands we work with and building those foundations. And every brand is different. There is a lot of stakeholder management as people’s views on where they want their businesses to go are different and it’s important for us to foster those.”  

Yet Wecker is clear on her priority to drive strong brand awareness, consideration and trial across each brand. “At best, some of our brands would have 10 per cent awareness amongst target audiences. So it’s very low,” she said.    

Alongside brand development, a big emphasis is being placed on building the digital ecosystem and ecommerce, social and website capability in particular. Wecker also looks after the retail component of Mighty Craft’s approach, which is driven by an owned ecommerce channel capability launched at the end of 2021.  

The priority from an ecommerce perspective is accelerating spirits sales. “Beer is more difficult and costly from an ecommerce perspective, and spirits are where the consumer need is and want,” Wecker said.  

“It makes sense for us as well. Wanted to get our spirits ecommerce up and running pre-Christmas to take advantage of that time of year.”  

To date, about 80 per cent of digital management across the brand portfolio has now been brought in-house. Ecommerce capability across different websites is supported by the same back-end platform.    

“Our model is to provide scale and that’s coming from scalable digital platforms. Having everyone under the same roof really enables that,” Wecker said. “But for consumers, it’s important to have the brand front and centre. It’s not about Mighty Craft - that’s our trade and investor-facing brand. For consumers, it’s the brands that will continue to be important. So we’re looking for back-end systems and synergies but to deliver the brands consumers expect.”  

Martech investment has also commenced, starting more from the sales side with an investment into Salesforce. 

“Again, many of the individual brands have had different platforms for email and Web hosting,” Wecker said. “We’re bringing all that together and in the process of transitioning them all over.”  

Data collection is vital in these efforts, and Mighty Craft has a number of cellar doors and independent venues within its portfolio too.  

“There are a wonderful avenue and source of data to collect. It’s critical to build databases across all databases and see how we can scale and communicate our offerings with as many consumers as well,” Wecker said.  

Media connection  

The focus on digital capability inevitably led into media strategy and how to ensure Mighty Craft’s brands can reach consumers in the best possible way.  

To help, Mighty Craft has appointed independent media agency, Half Dome, to do media planning and buying across all channels.  

“It’s important to understand what we are doing, how it’s performing and be able to adapt and change quickly,” Wecker said. “There was a clear need for strong media agency partnership to develop expertise in the digital area. Digital is complex, we have a lot of brands, and we need an expert partner to grow with us and reach consumers in an effective and efficient way.  

Half Dome will work with Mighty Craft to plan and buy media for online and offline channels, across brand and performance activity, including key partnerships with trusted Australian publishers.

The Mighty Craft appointment follows Half Dome’s acquisition of Consumedia to become a full-service agency.  

“Through the pitch process, Half Dome were able to deliver on what we were looking for, which was both right capability and people and business fit to be able to grow with our business,” Wecker said.    

Mighty Craft’s media and marketing approach is digital first. “We’re setting up search foundations, primarily focused on video and social through YouTube and social platforms. The other component is exploring strategic publisher partnerships to help drive consideration across several brands,” Wecker continued.  

“That’s the top end of the funnel. As we start to go down the funnel, it’s about retargeting and converting site traffic.”  

ROI includes driving brand awareness but also then creating effectiveness. “A big focus we have is ensuring creative we are putting out is resonating and if it’s not, optimising it along the way,” Wecker said.  

“The ultimate end goal is conversions – we can see from our own platforms the sales numbers, and we have sales targets behind this. 

“What we’re doing is building the brands, then ensuring they are available to purchase in what channel or platform consumers want. So national and independent retailer sales, on and off-premise, is also important. Delivering on overall sales targets for each of the brands is one way we’re looking at that. Then we’ll measure creative effectiveness through individual metrics like CPA of each platform. Then it’s about shifts in awareness, particularly unaided brand awareness.”  

Wecker pointed to an array of rostered creative agencies across the brands. In some cases, she’s leveraging their historic knowledge and insights. “Then it’s looking at who is right for us for the future,” she said.  

In-house, Mighty Craft has graphic design capability, primarily focused on ecommerce where quick optimisation and test-and-learn are vital. Other key skills internally include brand management fundamentals, digital and CRM. Then it’s about having the right systems in place to perform, analyse and optimise, Wecker said.  

Having completed so many acquisitions over the last 12-18 months, it’s clear the task ahead is a big one.  

“The big priority is scaling what we have, finding these synergies and leveraging that. Acquisition is on the radar, but we have to ensure these brands are thriving for the long term,” Wecker added.    

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