It can be challenging for small beer retailers to compete with giant supermarkets, large beer store chains and wholesalers like Costco. Likewise, small craft brewers do not always have the advertising dollars to put their brand names in front of consumers as Anheuser-Busch or MillerCoors do. However, one small startup based out of Houston aims to change the way beer is advertised in America.
“The idea for SaveOnBrew arose almost as a joke,” admited founder Mark Davidson. “My wife and I have always been avid beer deal hunters. We’d scour every circular we could possibly find to see what sales were advertised each week. Our friends joked that we should ‘start a website’ – and eventually we did.”
Scaling up was not without its fair share of challenges, however. “We needed to find a way to pull in data from every ZIP code in America,” Davidson explains. “The easy answer would have been crowd-sourcing and asking our site users to send in the prices they found. Yet, we looked at other crowd-sourced models and saw the data was very sporadic, not to mention inaccurate.”
The SaveOnBrew model uses information collected from ad circulars, as well as information directly pulled from retailers.
“The big chains make it easy because they often run the same sales across every market they’re in. Yet, as our site grew to reach hundreds of thousands of users, we found more small retailers were contacting us to use the leveraging power we provide.”
At SaveOnBrew, users can search for beer prices by brand, type of beer, or retailer. It is about more than giving consumers the information they need to make a beer purchase. They’re also about giving small craft brewers an opportunity to advertise their brand. Texas-based Guadalupe Brewing Co. is a new microbrewery looking to get greater exposure. “We don’t really have the money for advertising at this point,” brewery co-founder Anna Kilker told US News & World Report. “[We] really have to rely on customer loyalty,” – and sites like SaveOnBrew to connect with prospects.
Similarly, small beer stores can use the site to drive sales. If a small retailer is advertising the best local prices on a particular beer, it could see a marked increase in foot-traffic from SaveOnBrew users. Recently, SaveOnBrew added hundreds of liquor stores that recently started selling beer, including Hollywood Liquor Store in Portland, Ore., Brooklyn Center in Minnesota, and Franklin Liquors in Massachusetts.
“Many people don’t realize that wine and liquor stores are starting to get into the sale of craft beer,” Davidson said. “Often times, consumers come to us to see who has their favorite beer on sale and are surprised to see that the little mom-and-pop liquor stores just a few blocks away from their current location have it for the cheapest.”
Posting deals on SaveOnBrew is completely free for retailers and brewers, and plans to stay that way. However, the company has just released plans to launch a customized micro-site platform, with paid advertising opportunities. The cost will be very minimal for beer distributors, at roughly $20 per day, but they will be given exclusive advertising space for their market and access to thousands of beer drinkers in the area. Mobile users will be able to pull up maps to all the distributor’s locations, in addition to viewing ads for brands and retail locations in the distributor’s network.
“It’s a winning proposition for everyone involved,” Davidson said. “Consumers get accurate beer price data, maps to locations with beer sales, and information regarding new beers to taste. Distributors, sellers and brewers have a tremendous advertising opportunity that is easy, effective and cost-efficient.”
More information can be found at SaveOnBrew.com.