Small Brewers Overcome Distribution Disadvantages With New Tool From Digital Relativity

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Many small breweries don't even know where their beers go. BeerMappr shows them, and creates a map to share with customers.

We are marketers, and also craft beer lovers. So we've created a tool to help fuel our own passion for finding great craft beer.

A WV company has developed a digital tool to even the marketing playing field for beer breweries nationwide.

The new service, BeerMappr, is the first affordable option for breweries to find out where their beers are distributed, basic information many breweries still don't have access to. BeerMappr also generates an interactive map for them to share with customers.

"I have heard multiple brewers answer the question, 'Where can I buy your beer?' with, 'I'm not sure, but if you see it somewhere, let us know where you found it!' " said Pat Strader, an owner at Digital Relativity. "We are marketers, and also craft beer lovers. So this can help fuel our own passion for finding great craft beer."

The current challenge for brewers is this: the 3-tiered system (breweries sell to wholesale distributors, who then sell to retailers, who then sell to the public) takes away the control of distribution from the creators of the beer. They often have no say in where it ends up, and most don't even have a clue where their handiwork is heading.

"BeerMappr will make use of data that is normally locked away in hard-to-read reports, turning that into usable information that can connect customers with breweries," said Martin Bowling, a developer from Digital Relativity, which created the service.

Depending on the state, laws can make it especially hard, restricting brewers from marketing their own product at particular retailers. That's supposed to be a distributor's job, but larger breweries are often the ones distributors choose to spend their advertising dollars on.

The map BeerMappr creates shows all sales locations with no favoritism, which makes it one of few legal marketing tools brewers have to help customers find their beers. And, it's less than a quarter of the market price for similar services.

"BeerMappr is a pet project I've been very anxious to get out in the wild," Bowling said. "Working with and being a lover of some of the great smaller breweries, I want to help them connect with others who love their beer. I want to see them empowered by their data."

Bridge Brew Works has already begun using the BeerMappr service, and getting some social media attention for it. All they have to do is upload their depletion reports to generate their map.

"We hope to add more reports and tools to help brewers understand how their beer is being distributed," Martin said. "Things like social media integration that will alert users when new data is added. We'll be using feedback from brewers and users to continue to build the service."

Digital Relativity will be sharing more of the upcoming features at the Craft Brewers Conference in Denver on April 8-11.

Bowling said he hopes the tool will help drive passionate customers to their favorite breweries. The real end game, he said, is clear:

"I want breweries to have to make more beer."

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