The Co-op Group has been working to engage its members’ voice – and now that voice has been given an unusual forum, on the retailer’s new bottled beers.
In a tasting trial, 100 cases of the Group’s new Golden Ale, Triple Hop and IPA beers were sent to members.
The beer-lovers sent their comments and ratings back to the Group’s buying team, which looked through the responses and selected three comments to go on labels before the bottles hit the shelves.
The tasting notes for the Golden Ale came from Michael Gibbons, a Co-op member from Luton; the Triple Hop was written by Sam Dineley from Bristol, and the IPA was written by Tom Packman from Essex.
As a thank-you, the trio were invited to Frederick Robinson’s Brewery in Stockport, where the ales are made, to watch the first Triple Hop bottles coming off the line for the very first time. They were also given a brewery tour – and, of course, got to sample some more beer.
On the Group’s blog, Richard Dennett, senior buyer for beers, ciders and spirits, said the scheme had been a success, with members “thrilled to be asked to taste and give their thoughts on our new ales and took to Twitter to share what they were doing”.
He added: “Our members are an eloquent bunch. Across the three beers they offered up some wonderful descriptors, that made the job of choosing which ones to carry on the bottles very difficult.”
Over 91% of those who received their beers came up with some wording, and the top rated beer was the 5.5% ABV Triple Hop, scoring a 3.8 out of five.
Members had very different ideas about what types of food the ales would compliment; the IPA being matched variously with meat casseroles, curry, summer foods and salads and BBQ – an ale for all seasons it would appear.
It’s not the Group’s first foray into member endorsement for its drink products. One of its first member voice engagements saw the Group give six bottles of wine to 100 members in Holmfirth so they could host a tasting event.
Recommendations and tasting notes from the event were used by the Group in point-of-sale material at the Holmfirth store – and as a result, all six wines saw an increase in sales.