A mobile application (app) – Craft Craze – has been developed to further the market reach and ease of access to South African-made craft beverages, including the growing craft beer market.
Prototype app development started in March 2019, after which Craft Craze presented the concept to breweries in Gauteng. The resulting “fantastic response” led to the concept being developed further, with app development having started in earnest in April 2020, Craft Craze CEO Jorge Jardim tells Engineering News.
The idea around the need for such an app, he explains, revolves around the products of most craft breweries, distilleries and wineries in South Africa being limited to the immediate areas they are located in.
“We also know that to survive, craft beverage manufacturers need a premises for tasting and sales. In most cases, if the brewery/distillery does not have a restaurant selling their products, the business is not necessarily viable,” says Jardim.
Craft Craze enables craft beverage manufacturers to register and list their products at no cost. The products are listed in a central and online shop for sale and distribution across South Africa.
Jardim notes that, through Craft Craze, craft beverage products are also marketed through Craft Craze’s social media platforms, thereby promoting such products beyond the immediate areas in which they are already well known.
Meanwhile, although the app was developed for craft beverage manufacturers, Jardim says consumers can also use the app, and even make purchases without registering.
However, he says registering provides consumers with more features, such as the ability to rate and review products, and find outlets where the products can be bought from a retailer. There is no cost for the consumer to register.
Jardim explains that craft drinks are often of better quality and offer more variety than what consumers are typically used to in South Africa.
“The difference between commercial beverages and artisanal beverages basically comes down to the passion for the craft by the manufacturer. They take pride in their products and spend time creating something that is unique, bold and challenges the mundane.”
The appreciation of these efforts by the consumers is what sparked the “craze” with people finding it adventurous to try unexpected flavours that they never knew were out there, he adds.
Before the most recent pre-New Year’s, and currently in effect, alcohol sales ban, Jardim says the industry was steadily growing, with many breweries and distilleries creating “their spin” on popular drinks, especially beer and gin.
“But since many breweries and distilleries are small family-run businesses with limited capital, many have had to close down, and the growth has regressed.”
However, during the ban, he says purchases through the app are still being facilitated on a pre-order basis, offering a way for consumers to assist the craft industry survive. The orders will be fulfilled when the ban is lifted.
Jardim also notes that many registered craft beverage manufacturers do not have online shops. However, using Craft Craze, different products can be ordered at once from multiple manufacturers. “This makes it slightly more attractive and convenient for the consumer.”
To further assist the local industry, he says Craft Craze’s margins are kept low and are coupled with no mark-up on courier fees.
Craft Craze also intends to offer additional functionality to manufacturers, one example being the recent release of a keg management and tracking tool which is available to all registered craft breweries at no cost.
“With the orders we have fulfilled to date, I think we have surprised many people in how efficient our processes are,” Jardim enthuses.
He tells Engineering News that, to date, sign up to the app has been good, with new registrations on a daily basis.
“We currently have a couple of hundred registered consumers, and about 50 registered manufacturers. The registration process for both consumer and manufacturer is conducted quickly online. There is a lot of activity on the online shop by consumers on a daily basis with about 4 000 new visitors since November 2020.”