A recent USA Today article shared how some churches are taking their messages to a very nontraditional location: taverns. With names such as "Bibles and Beer," churches are experimenting with distribution models that take the product to the people. Some church goers may question the appropriateness of using watering holes as a gathering place for bible studies or watching televised church services. But, the practices profiled in the article are a call for marketers to reflect on how they should approach product distribution.
Holding bible studies in taverns to deliver faith experiences is a viable strategy because:
1. Business is down - The number of people regularly attending traditional worship services has been in decline or stagnant in recent years. Alternative distribution models should be evaluated as a means to energize sales.
2. Consumer need exists - Church attendance may be down, but it is not because people do not feel a need to explore their faith. A variety of reasons keep people away from traditional churches; taking a product or experience to environments where people feel comfortable enables them to meet their needs on their terms. Other services have successfully used this type of distribution model such as medical clinics at work sites and supermarkets.
The practice of holding faith-based events in taverns will probably not fundamentally alter the delivery of religious experiences in this country. But, it represents an innovation, adding new value to customers by making it more convenient to explore one's faith. Can your business apply the "meet them where they are" distribution model to increase sales while meeting customer needs? Do you use the same channels for reaching customers that you have always used? If yes, you are likely missing sales because customer needs are a moving target, changing over time. If your distribution approaches do not adapt to the market, you are likely missing sales that an enterprising competitor will gladly take.
USA Today - "Churches Take Their Message to Taverns"