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Young alumna brewing a new marketing strategy at Picaroons Brewing Company

Author: UNB Alumni

Posted on Sep 17, 2020

Category: Management , Inspiring Stories , Young Alumni , UNB Fredericton


Experience counts when you’re developing growth and marketing strategies for companies. Kate McPherson (BBA’19) has it – even though she’s only 23.

Kate graduated with a business degree from UNB’s Faculty of Management in 2019 with a ton of experience under her belt. First, she opted to take advantage of the exchange program and studied at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore for a year, doing a lot of focused market research directly with Asian-based startup technology companies. When she returned, she enrolled in UNB’s Activator program (now the Venture Analyst Program) within the faculty and worked with startups on market research, strategy and growth plans. She gained hands-on experience and learned the full operational side of entrepreneurship, which she says complemented her marketing concentration.

As she was finishing her degree, she did her dissertation on how brand image influences overall brand perception. When she interviewed for a marketing position at Picaroons Brewing Company not long after, she shared her findings and how they could be used in a strategic direction for the company. They took her up on it, and made her Director of Marketing.

“I knew I could help accelerate the company and the brand,” Kate says. “Picaroons had grown organically for years, and now we’re growing purposefully in a strategic direction. I started with fundamental market research and figured out the core of what people love about Picaroons and what they don’t love. We then developed a complete strategy and reduced one-off offerings to streamline profits with core brands. It’s hectic and exciting and a huge learning experience. I love it.”

One of those core brands is the 506 line, brewed from New Brunswick-grown grain and hops. “It’s a product and brand that really relates to our province and the local customer.” Kate has been busy over the last six months developing advertising and a commercial for 506 – and has done everything from create the strategy behind the copy, write the script, develop the shot list and direct the videography. “We have such a small team and I’ve had to throw myself into every aspect. It’s been an amazing experience!”

The COVID-19 lockdown forced Picaroons to shut their doors early in the spring, but since restrictions have eased, Kate says they’ve been doing amazing well at both their northside Fredericton Roundhouse location and their uptown Saint John location. “We’ve been learning to be flexible and creative and work through the unpredictable.”

“I feel like I was prepared to take on this demanding role in this demanding time because of the experiential learning I gained while I was still studying. I learned the real-life issues companies deal with and how to execute the knowledge I gained in classes. Execution is a big learning curve – so having that experience with a lot of different companies before graduating and taking on my first job was huge for me.”