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Startup Stories: Hop King Pale Ale

This article is part of our series on Start up Stories.
You can view the full series or download the report.

In this week’s blog, we speak to Ben and Ludi Hopkinson, founders of Hop King beer, a disruptive start-up centred on creating a lifestyle beer brand. Living under the mantra of “Easy Drinking, Easily Understandable and Easily Recognisable” they have successfully gone through their first round of crowdfunding, and the company continues to go from strength to strength based out of its highly popular skate park HQ in London Bridge!

Tell us a bit about Hop King, why did you get started and what is it that’s so unique about this brand?
Hop King is the world’s first craft beer and skateboard company! We started the company because we wanted to make craft beer that was more accessible and easy drinking than the over hopped and intimidating world of craft beer. We knew that in this competitive environment we had to stand for more than just good beer so chose something inspirational, dynamic and a passion of ours – skateboarding. If it works for energy drinks…why not beer?

In your view what is changing in terms of what consumers want, and how is Hop King responding?
People’s attention span is getting shorter and shorter as they are inundated by content, brands and advertising. We try to make everything we do interesting and engaging from the point of view of the customer.

How do you decide what’s next for Hop King? Any guiding principles or approaches to insight and innovation?
We use business models that allow us to dip our toes into markets/strategies/concepts, get feedback and then decide which direction to dive. For example, before launching the beer in a foreign country, we will first launch the brand by sponsoring local skaters.

In your opinion, what do you think the future looks like for your industry?
Fundamentally good. I think you will see more and more of the smaller breweries being bought by the bigger ones. The bigger breweries cannot adapt or change quickly, and they are averse to taking risks. The smaller guys are pushing the boundaries with flavours and brands and the customers are responding to that.

Finally, tell us about some brands that you find inspiring for Hop King from a marketing perspective? What stands out about them and why?
We love the brands that push boundaries, have the consumer in mind, and have global domination as a must – so, Redbull, Nike and Nixon.

The Brand Genetics take
Here at BG we believe in Human First Futures, and Hop King is a great example of the success this can have. By building micro influencers and early adopter feedback into the innovation process, the company is able to keep a finger on the pulse, continuously understanding and adapting to its market.

Combined with a willingness to test and learn, they have been able to growth hack with a relatively low asset base. Ultimately, when your customers are your investors you find out pretty quickly when you are heading in the right direction.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Hop King understands that FMCG products (and by extension brands) typically only interact with a small percentage of consumers’ lives. By building a lifestyle driven brand that brings together the community (in this case via its skate park and other activations) the company is able to enhance drinkers’ lives and extend the role of Hop King – leading to greater loyalty and catalysing growth.

If you want to find out how our agile innovation methodology can growth hack your business – get in touch today.

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