Marston’s social pubs uncover new customer journeys

You wouldn’t take a nicely brewed pint of beer and pour it down the drain, and Marston’s – the world’s largest brewer of cask ale – couldn’t agree more.


It decided to take positive action when it discovered it was doing just that with valuable customer insight.

Marston’s realised – like the majority of brands – it was making assumptions about its customers’ journeys without truly listening to them.

The brewer’s vision was to “bring social back” to its pubs and – by moving away from a pre-defined journey – it aimed to use insights to provide each customer with a tailored experience, relevant to their individual preferences.

So why should marketers follow Marston’s lead in making customer-managed journeys a strategic priority, and what can they do to build richer engagement and stronger relationships with customers?

Customer indifference is costly to a brand, while “brand love” has a positive impact on bottom line results. Gallup research indicates brands with fully engaged customers enjoy a 23% increase in performance over other brands. One-off promotions may get customers through the door, but an emotional connection is needed to keep them coming back.

Marston’s realised building a bond through its marketing, based on better insight around their customers needs and preferences, would create relationships that endured well past last orders.

Over a six-week period Marston’s analysed digital interactions for thousands of customers and used this insight to tailor the customer experience. While customers who browsed for a particular craft beer were sent offers and features relevant to that product, customers who viewed online children’s menus received family-friendly messaging.

Insight from pub Wi-Fi connections enabled Marston’s to understand the customer journey offline, improving pub visits with relevant suggestions.

Tailoring the customer experience across every interaction proved extremely successful with Marston’s multiplying its standard response rate by six.

Marketers can follow Marston’s freshly brewed example in a number of ways:

Allow customers to follow their own path. Brands should avoid forcing customers along pre-defined paths, by supporting them on their journey of choice, and ensuring every conversation is based on the customer’s unique preferences.

View the customer journey as a whole. Rather than focusing on individual interactions, marketers must consider the entire customer journey – both online and offline – to build, meaningful long-lasting relationships that move in the direction the customer wants to travel.

Create a consistent brand voice. Consistency across every interaction is key. By connecting all customer-facing technology, brands can engage in joined-up conversations with a uniform voice aligned with their marketing priorities.

Measure emotional engagement. Brand love is directly linked to purchasing behaviour so emotional engagement should be a primary metric marketers use to learn from each interaction, continually enhancing the customer experience.

Use actionable customer journey insight. Actionable customer journey insight is the magic ingredient that allows marketers to add value for customers, in real time, at every single interaction.

Marston’s approach taps into the idea of the customer-managed journey, achieving a unique and personal flow of interactions based on context, preferences, and choices of the customer. The result is value driven relationships with happy customers who love the brand as much as the beer – and we can all drink to that.

By Glen Manchester, CEO and founder, Thunderhead