Business Studies Visit From Days Brewing

Our Business Studies students were given an opportunity to extend themselves beyond the curriculum with exposure to an exciting new business, DAYS,…

Our Business Studies students were given an opportunity to extend themselves beyond the curriculum with exposure to an exciting new business, DAYS, which has seen exponential growth since launching during lockdown in 2020.

One of the founders Duncan Keith came to Cranleigh to talk our students about their alcohol free beer business. They describe beer as the ‘world’s oldest social network’. They wanted to combine their love for it with a rising trend in focusing on health benefits for the consumer. Spotting that 0% alcohol is the fastest growing segment in all of the beer category, set to be worth £24bn they felt it was an opportunity not to be missed. Duncan was a huge advocate for starting a business with his best friend; he reassured our students that it’s a great experience, if you can make it work. Having worked with a variety of businesses such as ‘Proper Snacks’ focusing on scaling up businesses, he identified a common trend – everyone is trying to get healthier.

They decided to spend the time in lockdown building their brand, developing the product, building a team with a range of skills. They attracted shareholders from all walks of life; CEO’s, entrepreneurs, Olympic medal winners – they wanted as much experience as possible. Whilst Duncan still feels relatively young, he wanted to develop a product with a younger target market in mind. 30% of 18-25 year olds in the UK do not drink alcohol, these consumers are the future and currently he doesn’t feel their needs and wants are being met. He learnt very quickly that businesses need to be flexible and they need to be able to adapt. Deciding to leave their jobs and embark on their new venture, just a few weeks later they found the UK in lockdown, thanks to COVID-19. They decided to move closer to the brewery they were using, adapt recipes, build their brand and take a little longer to ensure everything was refined.

Duncan talked about building their brand. They knew that they wanted DAYS to be something that consumers drunk not only in bars and pubs but also at home, so they wanted to build distribution in traditional channels focusing on getting their product into leading supermarkets. Duncan discussed the difficulty around this, particularly as their brand was in its infancy with very little power over large supermarkets. Again, facing adversity and being able to remain resilient they are now sold in Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s amongst a huge number of hospitality trade outlets.

He talked about the benefits of selling online and being able to keep control whilst distributing products directly from manufacturer to the consumer. What was interesting was their ability to quickly identify the consumers’ needs and wants and feed this into all areas of their marketing. In a quest to normalise the alcohol free beer experience, they have looked to adapt their product. By ensuring their core product can fit into a pint glass, it means that on a Friday night when you’re out with your friends, your beer looks no different to anyone else’s. Operating in a niche market he said is even more important that as a business you are agile and respond to consumers.

Perhaps what they’re most proud of is their ability to communicate to their target market through promotion and viral campaigns. Duncan gave some examples of shaking up the market and creating a buzz through being controversial. They are one of the first beer producers to use TikTok where they feel they can capture more of the market. They are the most popular beer brand globally on TikTok – bigger than Coca Cola! Duncan talked about the importance of packaging – arguably the most important thing when communicating with the consumers…he emphasised the importance of making the most of the relatively limited real estate when looking at the huge variety of different brands on the shelves in the supermarkets.

They spoke about their USP – very few beers in the category are completely 0% but also their innovative approach to everything that their brand stands for is unique. They take sustainability very importantly and are very proud of their B Corp status (the highest standards for sustainability).

They want to be more than just a beer in a can or bottle. They want to build a relationship with their consumer – building loyalty and trust. Duncan talked about their partnership with Mental Health Charity – “So Let’s Talk” supporting 10,000 hospitality professionals with their physical and mental health.

Duncan’s talk was business gold dust and he went onto talk about the market, the category and its growth and opportunities. He focused on their people, what leadership and hierarchy structure they use, how they motivate their staff. He discussed economies of scale, raising finance through crowdfunding, Government incentives (EIS Enterprise Investment Scheme), market research (focus groups) and bargaining power.

Duncan left us with some big lessons:
• Do something because you’re committed and passionate about it.
• Don’t try and do too much, too quickly.
• When you receive bad news, ask as many questions as possible to help you move forward.
• Acknowledge and talk about the bad news…Fail – fail hard, fail fast.

Duncan’s talk finished with an opportunity for our students to ask a series of thought provoking questions and Duncan was brilliant in answering these, ensuring all of the pupils left the room with an enhanced understanding and passion for the subject. We are hugely grateful to Duncan for giving up his time to support our pupils and talk so passionately about his time in business.

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