The sisters behind Yuengling, America's largest independent brewery, have an inside joke that completely explains their business philosophy
D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc./YouTube
- The four Yuengling sisters who run the oldest brewery in America joke that it took 189 years to get their beer in 22 states.
- The brewery took 18 months of research and testing before releasing its first new product in 17 years, and it has no immediate plans to expand beyond the eastern US, despite its output.
- Instead of constantly innovating and keeping up with craft breweries who are creating new beer products, the Yuengling business model focuses on what it's already good at - its core products in its core market.
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It took 18 months of research before beer-maker Yuengling released a pilsner beer - the first new year-round product in 17 years.
As the oldest brewery in America producing more than 2 million barrels of beer annually, innovation isn't at the center of Yuengling's business philosophy. Rather, the brewery focuses on what it's already good at - making its core products, distributed in its core market.
"Our approach is a very slow, cautious, growth model and we joke internally it's taken us 189 years to get to 22 states, so that sort of tells you who we are," Jen Yuengling said on an episode of Business Insider's podcast "This Is Success," alongside her sister Wendy.
"We talk a lot about how our breweries were built on efficiency and simplicity and I think that's a big part of our culture as a company," Wendy said. "We want to continue to reach consumers with what we think is new and relevant, and that was the thinking behind the Golden Pilsner. So I think we need to be mindful of innovation, but it's not necessarily what drives our business model."
When it came time to introduce a new beer to the market, the four Yuengling sisters who run the brewery - Jen, Wendy, Debbie, and Sheryl - wanted to get it right. As avid beer drinkers, the sisters wanted to create a refreshing beer that could be enjoyed year-round, not seasonally.
"So we recognized there was a need in the refreshment category that consumers were trending towards and we recognized that our core brands weren't necessarily playing in that arena, so we took our time, we made sure we got it right, and we feel like we have a very good product that's out there," Jen said.
While beer consumption is down and competition is fervent with independent and craft brewers creating new and innovative products, like marijuana-infused beer, the Yuengling sisters don't feel they need to change their business model or enter an experimental sphere.
Yuengling isn't a national beer. It's available in 23 states, in the eastern half of the country, and the Yuengling sisters have decided that they rather focus on their existing market than following other breweries of their stature and expanding throughout the US and beyond.
"We feel like we're producing quality beers that are very drinkable to consumers. It's absolutely gotten very complex in our industry and consumption is down, but we continue to compete every day with breweries of all sizes and we stay focused on quality," Wendy said. "We stay focused on simplicity and maintaining our core business."
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