November 14, 2014

Great Time Had at Great Lakes Brewing Company

Jessica A. Brown is a first year student in the full-time MBA program.

As a student at Weatherhead, I have the privilege of gaining exclusive access to local companies and learning about their inner workings. For this event, I got to have an inside look into the marketing strategy of the Great Lakes Brewing Company.

As students gathered in our private room at the brewery, I had a chance to sample a few of the many varieties of their beer selection, including Christmas Ale. With such a relaxed atmosphere, I met many students from other programs who were also interested in marketing.

Moving into the seating area, Marissa, communications specialist, began to explain what it was like working for the Great Lakes Brewing Company and also the unique challenges in regards to working in this sector. Marketed as a local brewery, we learned about the delicate balancing act of keeping the quality of each beer as high as possible with constant expansion around the local region. With quality being paramount, we discovered that the second most important aspect was the story behind each product. From Eliot Ness to the Edmund Fitzgerald, each product has a unique connection with the Great Lakes region. The atmosphere was more like a large family rather than a company, leading each employee to consider themselves an advocate for the brand. There was a sense of pride when hearing a patron order a Great Lakes beer at the local bar. Highly knowledgeable and open, Marissa answered all of our questions ranging from the differences in strategy and the importance of gaining the customers’ loyalty.

We then enjoyed a personalized tour of the brewery with Sarah, who is a laboratory technician at the company. We learned about the importance of grains, cooking and the complex process that went into every flavor of beer. Sarah, extremely knowledgeable about their products, answered every odd question from our group with a sense of humor and extreme pride in her work.

Seeing the people behind the brand I buy every Christmas really puts into perspective the important of communication, marketing and brand management. I have learned so much from this experience and look forward to future events.

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