Novel vending machine highlights craft value

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As craft and independent brewers across the world attempt to create a bigger market share instead of competing for the same slice of the pie, Vietnamese beer brand Belgo has launched an innovative promotional campaign to highlight the value of its beer.

First launched in Ho Chi Minh City, the host city for Brew Asia next year, the promotion allows customers to exchange a ‘mass market’ beer for Belgo’s product through a specially developed vending machine.

This encourages customers to trial Belgo without having to pay the premium for the craft beer. Only what it considers mass-market beers are eligible for exchange with no other craft beers accepted.

“A brand like Belgo is hard to convince people to make an impulse purchase on, especially with how affordable mass market beers are,” a company spokesperson told Brews News.

“No one would care about a simple discount, but, turning the accessibility of mainstream beers into our advantage… there’s something really fun in there. That’s where the core starts – give people the chance to upgrade their regular beer into a Belgo.”

The vending machines were specially built by upcycling an older model and were built in partnership with a local engineer, according to a company spokesperson.

Co-founded by Gauthier Lagasse and Francois Schwennicke in 2016, Belgo is brewed in-house at its brewery in Long An, Vietnam, with some ingredients directly shipped from Belgium. The company said that this makes the price point significantly higher than other products on the market.

Lagasse said an experiential marketing method was key in incentivising customers.

“Belgo is about adding a twist,” he said. “So, we knew that, in a market where mass-market beers are widely available, we needed to honour our personality and be disruptive to get people to try our beer.”

After the initial success, the beer currency promotion launched across Belgo’s three venues in Ho Chi Minh City.

“We are a small brand, but our ambitions are large”, Belgium marketing director Magdalena Bialasiewicz said in a media release.

“We believe this beer-currency platform is an excellent concept to show that we don’t need a big budget to stand out and show people Belgo’s quality.”

Over the past few years, Vietnam’s craft brewing industry has steadily grown with Vietnam Briefing reporting more than 30 craft breweries operating in the country since 2018.

Earlier this year, a Visual Capitalist report ranked Vietnam ninth in countries with the highest beer consumption. More than 3.8 million kilolitres of beer is consumed each year in the country, accounting for 2.20 per cent of the total global market share.

In his opening keynote presentation for SEA Brew last month, industry pioneer Charlie Papazian said that innovation is the driving factor for the industry’s strength, in all aspects of business.

SEA Brew, South East Asia’s largest brewing conference and tradeshow, ran last month in Bangkok, and had more than 600 attendees from across the region.

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