Connecticut-based Two Roads Brewing Co. was early into the craft beer space back in 2012, when there were about 3,000 independent breweries across the country.
Now there are more than 9,500 independent breweries, and Two Roads is ranked #54 by the Brewers Association.
While Two Roads’ top three sub-brands are IPAs, the company now produces “a beverage and a beer for every type of drinker,” says director of marketing Collin Kennedy.
Over the past two years, Two Roads conducted consumer research to execute a brand refresh communicated via packaging changes to accentuate its iconic crossed-arms logo, place greater emphasis on the logos of its sub-brands, and prominently list alcohol-by-volume content.
CPG Insider sat down with Kennedy for the following interview, which is edited for brevity and clarity.
CPG Insider: In which states do you have retail distribution?
Colin Kennedy: We are in Maine down to Virginia, and we also ship to Colorado. Our core markets are Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
CPG Insider: How have things changed over the past decade? What led to the brand refresh?
Kennedy: It’s very crowded now. You have brewers doing all sorts of graphic design—it’s a very busy space. So we realized that our packaging was in need of a facelift. We wanted to make sure we were giving customers the right information and obeying some of the current graphic trends that are across all CPG right now.
I believe Nielsen has a datapoint that consumers looking at a shelf make a decision in 13 seconds. So you have 13 seconds to grab their attention and sell them on your product just by looking at the can.
CPG Insider: Talk about the consumer research.
Kennedy: We did focus groups through Kantar in our four core states with some 1,200 craft beer users. It was an attitude and usage study, and a mix of current and non-users of our brand.
CPG Insider: What were some of the main takeaways?
Kennedy: One of the best things we saw when we showed them the new packaging was a 70% conversion from intent to buy. We asked them—based on the new graphics—would you purchase this beer at the shelf level? Out of those 1,200 users and non-users, 70% said yes, we would buy that beer. So we knew the graphics were right, the information was right, and the brand was ready for the next steps.
CPG Insider: What’s the significance of highlighting alcohol by volume?
Kennedy: People now want 8%, 9%, even 10% ABV. One of the best-selling beers in the country is a 9.5% triple IPA. On the concurrent side, you have people who are sober-curious or want a low ABV—if they’re going to be drinking for a football game or over extended hours. A lot of times, you don’t want to stand in the store and take the can and look for that ABV. That’s why it was so important for us to put that information at the forefront.
CPG Insider: Why are you in Colorado?
Kennedy: Colorado, where there are a lot of Connecticut transplants, was a test market . We opened there four years ago. We wanted to see how the Two Roads brand travels, and it’s been a great market for us. We’re changing distributors this year to a company called Eagle Rock that will help us get into groceries and the Total Wines stores of the world.
CPG Insider: You’ve just begun distilling gin and vodka, which is only sold here in your brewery. Do you really think you could get retail distribution, given the competitive landscape in spirits?
Kennedy: Maybe long term we’ll put it out in the market—in Connecticut to start—but we want to make sure we’re not giving too much to our distributors and that we’re growing the distilling brand slowly.Two Roads has such equity and power in Connecticut. I don’t think it would be hard to launch a Two Roads vodka or gin. We’ll get that trial.