Mug Clubs–What Are They? And Why Should a Brewery Have One?

Mug Clubs–What Are They? And Why Should a Brewery Have One?

Mug Clubs are programs created to reward beer-loving enthusiasts and build a loyal customer fan-base. Typically, these promotions require an entry fee, which provides members with a custom beer mug, T-shirt and exclusive club benefits. Entrants receive special offers and discounts, private event invitations and new beer announcements, and rewards like logo glassware, growlers, and other freebies. Plus, members can expand their beer palette and support a local brewer. As the owner, the benefit to you is enhanced brand loyalty, free word of mouth and positive buzz about your business, and an engaged group of customers. That sounds like a win-win for everyone.

We know Mug Clubs are relatively easy to start and manage, and deliver a substantial payback in customer loyalty. But what makes them work best? Why should you create one of your own? Check out the tips below to learn more and get started.

Give rewards, get rewarded

You can’t run a successful Mug Club without knowing what you’re going to provide. Start with a custom mug (stoneware or glass is best) stamped or tagged with a number, which will help identify the member with their mug. You can even create laminated cards with a corresponding number printed on it to keep the members and mugs straight. Next, quantify what the membership entails – maybe it’s a 20-oz. beer for the price of a 16-oz. pour, or a standing discount on merchandise. Just make sure it’s enticing enough to justify the entry fee and encourage additional signups. Also, consider creating a display to showcase Mug Club mugs. This helps promote the group without spending any additional dollars on advertising, and serves as a great marketing tool.

Easier is better

No one likes complicated and that includes your customers. Try to make the registration process as seamless as possible. Start by researching entry fees of competitors in your region and then keep your prices comparable. Your customers will want to know what’s included with the membership, so state the total fees upfront and be ready to mention the highlights, like custom glassware, growler fill discounts, and any other benefits or rewards you want to feature. To start the enrollment process, collect their name and email address, which can be used for both Mug Club communications and as a boost to your customer database.

Get them in the door

Once you have an outline of your Mug Club benefits and finalized materials ready to go, the next step is promotion. Start simple and inexpensively by using internal staff to spread the word, creating a mug display at your location, posting to social media channels like Facebook and Instagram, and tapping into your customer contact list with email marketing. If you’ve designed a Mug Club worth talking about, you can easily build a customer base who will spread the word to friends and family. Once you have them in the door, make sure you generate promotions and offers that will keep them there.

The bottom line is that for brewpubs, Mug Clubs are an inexpensive and easy way to engage with your current customers and help attract new ones. Design your mugs, create the benefits, promote the offering and watch as casual patrons become loyal fans.

Design the Mug Club

The first step to running a successful Mug Club is picking a structure. There are plenty of varieties you can try, but here are three of the most popular:

Mug Club Challenge – With this option, the brewery lists 100-150 beers and challenges customers to sample them over an extended period. This is a great choice for establishments that feature a menu with a wide range of selections like ales, lagers, IPA’s, stouts, etc.

Pro tip: Try to reward members along the way so they stick with the challenge. After the 10th beer, consider offering a branded key-chain or bottle opener. If your brewery has a kitchen, give them a free appetizer or burger with the 50th beer (or whichever you choose). Just make sure you keep prizes in the $5-$10 range.

Fee-Based Membership – This is strictly a cash and reward program. The customer pays a one-time membership fee that covers the cost of a custom mug, and earns them special discounts, promotions, and exclusive invites to Mug Club events. This is likely the least intensive of the three options, and works well as an introduction to the Mug Club program.

Loyalty Program (Punch Card) – This structure is as simple as it sounds. Each time a customer drinks a beer, you punch their card. After they reach a certain number, they’re rewarded with a prize of some sort. Similar to the Mug Club Challenge, you can provide swag like hats, t-shirts, and more. Don’t have a wide variety of beers? The Loyalty Program could be best for you.

Promote the Mug Club

Once you choose a structure, it’s time to promote your Mug Club. Start simple and inexpensively by using internal staff to spread the word, then focus on engaging with your current customer fan-base. If they already frequent your establishment, they’re likely more inclined to participate in a reward program.

Keep your advertising costs low by printing table tents, posters and bar signs. If you offer custom mugs to members, consider creating a display of glasses behind the bar. Depending on your budget and social media following, you can also try boosting posts on Facebook to extend reach and encourage signups.

Finally, don’t discount good word of mouth. Ask your most loyal customers to invite friends and family to join the club. And remember, the easier you make it for your customers to sign up, the more likely you are to build a solid group of participants. Allow them to register in person at your taproom, or give them the option to enroll through your website, too.

Engage the Mug Club

At this point, you’ve designed the look and feel of your Mug Club, finalized rewards and benefits, and promoted to current and potential customers. But how do you keep them engaged? During the enrollment process, collect the members’ name and email addresses. This can be used for Mug Club communications, as an efficient marketing tool, and at least 49 other things. Email is a simple way to keep them up-to-date and in the loop on the latest brews, current happenings, and noteworthy promotions.


Also, don’t forget about the power of social media. It’s incredibly easy to create a presence online, so if your brewery isn’t already on Facebook or Instagram, start a page today. Then, use these channels to engage with new and current customers. Need some content inspiration? Try these photography tips for Instagram.  

To summarize, running a successful Mug Club is an attainable goal for any motivated brewer. Simply determine the structure of your Mug Club, market to existing and potential customers, and utilize email and social media to keep your members engaged. By incorporating each of these touch-points, you will be better positioned to create a Mug Club worth raising a glass to.

Find local mug clubs, breweries, taprooms, and more on BeerMaps.

11/04/2019No comments

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