Boosting craft beer in Indonesia: Stark seeks to appeal to local tastes and increase category awareness

By Si Ying Thian

- Last updated on GMT

Stark Craft Beer appeals to local Indonesian tastes to increase category awareness © Stark Craft Beer
Stark Craft Beer appeals to local Indonesian tastes to increase category awareness © Stark Craft Beer

Related tags Craft beer Craft brewers Alcohol

Bali-based Stark Craft Beer has revealed how it is differentiating its marketing strategy between regions, while cautioning that the fledgling Indonesia market is not yet ready for excessive flavour innovation.

Brewing since 2011, the firm uses natural spring water sourced from Bedugul - a volcanic mountain located in North Bali.

Its range includes wheat beer, dark wheat, low carb, mango ale, lychee ale and IPA, sold in bottles, but all have been crafted specifically to suit local tastebuds.

All our flavours are made adjusting to the Indonesian [palate]. Our Pilsner is different from the regular version, as it uses local Balinese rice. Our IPA is not as bitter as the original Indian Pale Ale, as Indonesians like something a lot sweeter. It is also why we created the mango ale and lychee ale.”​ said brand manager, Ayu Sekar Ratmowiyono.

Ratmowiyono told us that the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown has led to a slew of start-ups in the craft beer market, due to young Balinese experimenting with home-brewed innovations with local ingredients.

However, she cautioned about going overboard with flavour innovation given the “niche [craft beer] market” ​in Indonesia.

Craft beer culture is relatively new in Indonesia, so a lot of things still need to be informed since the product awareness is low. For us, we need to keep [talking about] what is craft beer to the locals.”

Differentiated approach

The firm has also discussed how it adopts a different marketing approach in its key markets – Jakarta and Bali. For the former, it focuses on education. For the later, branding is key.

Ratmowiyono said while Jakarta consumers have higher purchasing power, most may not be able to tell the difference between regular beer and craft beer. There is also a lower alcohol consumption in Jakarta, but consumers are generally willing to spend on anything that is “cool”.

In Bali, there is more awareness of craft beer, but the brewery wants to stand out among the strong competition with other players.

In Jakarta, we usually create events and build community relationships in our bar and partnerships with other F&B [companies]. In one of our events, we educate customers about how to enjoy craft beer with the perfect food to satisfy the palate. We also have a beer bible to inform customers of the difference between the flavours, and giving a lot of information in our bars.

“Our approach in Bali is more about product and branding availability. We advertise a lot on the billboards in the main streets, as well as putting like street posters in touristic areas in Django where it’s full of young folks and more like the party area of Bali. We also do more promotions.”

“Fun, exciting and acceptable renovations”

The company believes is a stronger preference in the market for beer with a higher alcohol volume, and is now launching a Pilsner beer with 7% alcohol content.

It added that it is focusing on honing the flavour of its craft beer via investment in new equipment.

“We’re focusing right now on producing consistent beer flavours. We’re trying to enhance the five senses of experience in every sip, and give our customers a more holistic experience by making a more aromatic beer with a nice colour and a sweer aftertaste.

“I think our innovations will come in a more creative marketing strategy than creating another flavour because we are confident that with all of the variants that we have, they are all easily accepted by the Indonesian market,” ​it said.

Export ambitions

Aside from Jakarta and Bali, Stark’s craft beer is distributed via direct-to-consumer (D2C) channels countrywide.

It was previously exporting to food service operators in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan in 2017, but it halted during the pandemic. It is looking to revive its overseas distribution in 2024 in both D2C and business-to-business (B2B) channels.

The brand said that it will kick off its overseas distribution in Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia.

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