Online craft beer portal, Beerwulf, wants to rapidly expand and become the largest of its kind in Europe. It managed to draw a large crowd on its launch thanks to a famous investor: Heineken.
A niche market
Craft beers are a growth market in saturated beer markets like the United States or Europe. Pints have become a commodity or traffic builder thanks to their pricing, craft beers on the other hand are in a niche market.
An increasing number of more exotic, smaller brands have come to compete with the traditional craft beers like Hoegaarden and Leffe. Smaller breweries may not have the volumes to compete with the large breweries, that take up 95 % of the overall Dutch beer market, but they do put up a good fight in the craft beer market.
Mitra may have been one of the first retailers to sell craft beers online, pure online player Beernavigator.eu already has 1,400 craft beers in its product range and caters to the entire European market. However, shipping costs are extremely high, about 46 euro per shipment.
Beerwulf is the newest online player, but according to co-founder Marc Scholten, it sets itself apart from the competition: “We only focus on craft beers and we are more than a web shop. We advise consumers, with testing panels or consumer reviews for example We also suggest other beers or give tips about which beers to drink with certain types of food.” Next-day delivery and free shipping (once the order hits twenty items) are two of its other attractive features, thanks to collaborations with Kuehne & Nagel and DHL.
Scholten does not think Beerwulf will compete with other online players, but with supermarkets, although an international expansion may be required to reach enough people to sustain oneself. “Our competitors are both the specialty store and the supermarket. The latter have dedicated more shelf space to craft beers, but we can provide more choice online at supermarket-competitive pricing. Online is also more convenient, because consumers will not have to drive to a store to acquire their drinks”, Scholten said.
Heineken may find this approach very interesting as well, because the company could gain insights it could not otherwise get. “They get direct feedback about their craft beers and indirectly, it gets experience on how to create an online craft beer platform, which may extend to other types of alcoholic beverages”, according to Scholten.