How To Run A Successful Mug Club

A Mug Club can increase sales in your taproom, and improve customer loyalty. This article explains the basics on how to run a successful mug club.

A Mug club can offer an incentive for your customers to come back and buy more. This "VIP club" rewards your top customers and gives them a little something extra to make them feel special. Read more to learn how a mug club can improve brand loyalty among your top customers.


So you’ve made the decision to start a Mug Club. Good! But now what? There are a few things to consider to start off on the right foot and ensure its success. Read more below to determine which structure best fits your brewery, learn ways to help promote it, and start building brand loyalty with seasoned customers and new faces alike. This article also comes with a bonus interview with Mug Clubs Founder, John Harrison. There’s much to discuss, so let’s get started!

Design the Mug Club

The first step to running a successful Mug Club is picking a structure. There are plenty of varieties you can try, but here are three of the most popular:

Mug Club Challenge – With this option, the brewery lists 100-150 beers and challenges customers to sample them over an extended period. This is a great choice for establishments that feature a menu with a wide range of selections like ales, lagers, IPA’s, stouts, etc.

Pro tip: Try to reward members along the way to incentivize them to stick with the challenge. After the 10th beer, consider offering a branded keychain or bottle opener. If your brewery has a kitchen, give them a free appetizer or burger with the 50th beer (or whichever you choose). Just make sure you keep prizes in the $5-$10 range. For more on best practices and Mug Club hosting solutions, check out this site.

Fee-Based Membership – This is strictly a cash and reward program. The customer pays a one-time membership fee that covers the cost of a custom mug, and earns them special discounts, promotions, and exclusive invites to Mug Club events. This is likely the least intensive of the three options, and works well as an introduction to the Mug Club program.

Loyalty Program (Punch Card) – This structure is as simple as it sounds. Each time a customer drinks a beer, you punch their card. After they reach a certain number, they’re rewarded with a prize of some sort. Similar to the Mug Club Challenge, you can provide swag like hats, t-shirts, and more. Don’t have a wide variety of beers? The Loyalty Program could be best for you.

Promote the Mug Club

Once you choose a structure, it’s time to promote your Mug Club. Start simple and inexpensively by using internal staff to spread the word, then focus on engaging with your current customer fanbase. If they already frequent your establishment, they’re likely more inclined to participate in a reward program.

Keep your advertising costs low by printing table tents, posters and bar signs. If you offer custom mugs to members, consider creating a display of glasses behind the bar. Depending on your budget and social media following, you can also try boosting posts on Facebook to extend reach and encourage signups.

Finally, don’t discount good word of mouth. Ask your most loyal customers to invite friends and family to join the club. And remember, the easier you make it for your customers to sign up, the more likely you are to build a solid group of participants. Allow them to register in person at your taproom, or give them the option to enroll through your website, too.

Engage the Mug Club

At this point, you’ve designed the look and feel of your Mug Club, finalized rewards and benefits, and promoted to current and potential customers. But how do you keep them engaged? During the enrollment process, collect the members’ name and email addresses. This can be used for Mug Club communications, as an efficient marketing tool, and at least 49 other things. Email is a simple way to keep them up-to-date and in the loop on the latest brews, current happenings, and noteworthy promotions.

Also, don’t forget about the power of social media. It’s incredibly easy to create a presence online, so if your brewery isn’t already on Facebook or Instagram, start a page today. Then, use these channels to engage with new and current customers. Need some content inspiration? Try these photography tips for Instagram.  

To summarize, running a successful Mug Club is an attainable goal for any motivated brewer. Simply determine the structure of your Mug Club, market to existing and potential customers, and utilize email and social media to keep your members engaged. By incorporating each of these touchpoints, you will be better positioned to create a Mug Club worth raising a glass to.