When defining your audience in a traditional marketing sense, you’re mostly focused on segmentation. This calls for identifying as many distinct audiences as you can (early-adopter-beer-geeks, health-conscious young professionals, empty-nesters, world travelers, value shoppers, foodies, etc.). Then, you get as granular as you can with demographics and psychographics (gender, age, occupation, household income, brands they like and dislike, hobbies, etc.) in order to identify who are the best people to target your marketing to and ultimately, to increase sales.
This is a great exercise to get warmed up for this process, but we find it more valuable to think about how your brand itself impacts your customers’ lives and work backward from there. We say this because after identifying all your possible audiences, the next step in segmentation would be to alter products and messaging to accommodate these different audiences. This in itself isn’t bad (think having an easy drinking cream ale for the new-to-craft folks vs. a DIPA for the seasoned drinker). Where it starts to lose its value is when your brand messaging and storytelling begins to shift to speak to all of these people in such varying tones that if one segment sees your beer ads targeted to a different segment, they would be confused.
To be effective, you have to be singular in your overarching message and story, from your brand essence and tone of voice through the beer you brew. You should never shift your brewery’s message. Your story should be a constant through-line in all your communications. This isn’t to say that a specific beer (maybe a low calorie lager) can’t be specifically targeted towards one group, but your brewery’s brand and story itself shouldn’t shift when doing so.