Published on November 27th, 2013 | by Nottingham Drinker0
What do we do about young members?
The upward trend of young drinkers and Cask Ale certainly seems to have continued this year. In this years cask report it is reported that 58% first tried cask ale between the ages of 18-24 and that it is increasingly being seen as a young persons drink. This trend is reflected in CAMRA nationally with an increase of young members this year as well as being reflected in our own branch, with an increase in branch members and more young people volunteering at the beer festival. However as we move into 2014, what do we do about continuing this trend and getting more young people to try cask ale or join CAMRA? This issue we have two view points from Heather Peel, a member of the Young Members Marketing Group and Louise Pownall, Nottingham branches own Young Members Coordinator. You can contribute to the discussion with your own thoughts on the subject by leaving a comment at www.nottinghamdrinker.co.uk/young-members/what-do-we-do . So, what do you you think we should do about young members?
The branding on particular beers has a huge impact on who drinks it; I see this reflected in my peers’ choice of ale. My local brewery Robinsons based in Stockport has just produced bestselling ale ‘Trooper’ endorsed by Iron Maiden, one of my personal favourites. Elbow also brought out a brew ‘Build a Rocket Boys’ to appeal to the younger market. Real ale has increasingly become more fashionable with the help of some clever marketing and an increasing interest in drinking something often cheaper and more varied than other bigger brand alternatives. This switch in habits is evident all over Manchester, particularly in the Northern Quarter, where the age of drinkers has noticeably decreased to people under 30. The question is how do we recruit the new emerging group of youngsters?
There has never been a better time to increase young members within CAMRA. The target audience is already interested in real ale and in turn supporting their local pubs. In order to both engage and maintain members, recruitment needs to be strategically co-ordinated. Having attended a vast array of local beer festivals, recruitment needs to be targeted at the younger based festivals, for example at Didsbury where more students and young professionals reside and also at Chorlton, with a similar demographic. Potential members need to be educated about the importance of pubs and their reduction in binge drinking. It would be beneficial to improve the discounts into beer festivals to increase membership. Alongside this, bringing a non-member for free admission to the festival can help to create further interest.
Once more young members have been recruited the dynamics of the CAMRA meetings can gradually progress, with more meetings held at pubs with live music or a comedy venue. The use of twitter and facebook should also be increased to help young members become more active and to spread the hard work of CAMRA. Reminding people of celebrity involvement may help recruit more young members, for example Madonna’s favourite drink was once cited as ‘Landlords’. Maybe certain celebrities can be made honorary CAMRA members to develop the brand.
Prior to becoming a young member of CAMRA, I too wondered, why did I need to? Not only is it worth the fee for the Wetherspoons vouchers but more importantly we need to sustain the amazing work that CAMRA has already done and help to maintain pubs and develop the brand. Thus ensuring that pubs can thrive and provide live music, comedy nights and band themed pints created just for people like you.
A branch view on young members
I have recently received a copy of the article on the previous page, written by a young CAMRA member from the North West who is part of the Young Member Marketing Group, and thought it would be interesting to share it in this magazine, whilst simultaneously sharing my own thoughts on the subject.
Whilst I agree that branding and marketing play a huge part in raising the appeal of real ale to a new generation of drinkers, I do not agree that big brand “gimmicks” such as bands etc. creating beers are a route that needs to be taken. Although good branding will help catch the eye of a younger, more design focused generation, and perhaps encourage them to try the beer initially, it is the taste and flavour that will get them going back for more and branching out into other flavours and styles from there.
Now on to what is supposed to be the main point of the article, increasing membership of Young Members and subsequent activation of that membership. I have been the Branch YM Contact for Nottingham CAMRA for around 16 months and as part of the branch have seen the number of YMs increase, with Nottingham now having the 2nd largest number of YMs after Cambridge (but hopefully not for too much longer!) and I can assure you that there is not a simple answer. It has taken a lot of time and effort, often with very little return, to try and involve YMs in branch activities. We have had some successes though, one key achievement being increasing the number of YM representatives on the committee, each utilising their own abilities to bring some innovative ideas to the branch.
As well as ale, cider is hugely popular with both women and young people (both target areas for increasing CAMRA membership). As CAMRA, we need to remember that we also campaign for real cider as well as real ale, and if this was made more obvious within our campaigning and promotional materials then perhaps a whole new era of CAMRA may emerge!
What is completely (and rather shockingly) overlooked in Heather’s article is the importance of reaching out to the next generation of members both on a branch and national level, something that we in Nottingham are very good at, however is really lacking on a National level. The use of social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter has gained our branch a huge following, both on full branch and YM level, however the national accounts are very rarely if ever used. Certainly as far as Young Members are concerned, there is a huge problem with communication from the top down.
Branch magazines and National Point of Sale materials (flyers, posters, sign up forms etc) are also a great way to easily draw the attention of and reach out to a new demographic. In Nottingham we have recently had our magazine redesigned by one of our YMs to give it a fresh new look and make it appeal to potential new and younger members to read and learn about the what CAMRA does and the benefits of joining. It makes me wonder why the same hasn’t been done for some of the National materials to help promote the campaign (including ale, cider, pubs and everything else we stand for) to potential new members of all ages, genders and cultural backgrounds.