Over the pandemic, beverage alcohol got digital as purchasing largely moved online.
According to new research by IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, this change is here to stay. Beverage alcohol e-commerce sales are expected to reach more than US $42 billion across key markets by 2025; a growth of +66%. A quarter of global drinkers are now ordering online.
The new report studied 16 focus markets, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, the U.K., and the US. Findings showed that e-commerce value increased by +12% over 2019, then proceeded to jump almost 43% over 2020.
The market is ripe for embracing digital. Over 2021, some major moves happened in the online space. Uber UBER acquired Drizly, a major alcohol marketplace, while beverage alcohol ordering system Provi was valued at $75 million in funding and forward-thinking platform Speakeasy Company received $2 million in funding. Digital wine marketplace Vivino raised a $155 million series D.
As we look forward, IWSR predicts e-commerce will command 6% of all off-trade beverage alcohol volumes by 2025, up from less than 2% in 2018. Wine is the largest market for online shopping (40% of total e-commerce value) save for China, Colombia, Mexico, and Nigeria, where spirits lead.
While beer, cider, and RTDs currently command less than one-fifth of total e-commerce value, that’s expect to shift as those categories draw eyes away from wine.
Who’s shopping online? The IWSR found two consumer distinctions in the online beverage space. First, the more conventional shopper, browsing more traditional e-commerce access via websites. These platforms are used “by older consumers seeking good prices and known brands and who are prepared to wait for delivery.”
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The other half of shoppers are digitally-native, participating in ‘modern’ app-driven e-commerce. These platforms preferred by younger legal drinking age consumers who are looking for interesting or premium brands and willing to pay for rapid delivery.
Two-thirds of these drinkers made their first online booze purchase pre-pandemic.
“Given the pandemic and overall changing consumer shopping behavior, it’s certainly not surprising that alcohol ecommerce is growing very quickly. But what’s interesting is to see the significant variations that have developed both across and within markets in how different consumer groups shop via e-commerce and what their priorities are,” says Guy Wolfe, Strategic Insights Manager, IWSR Drinks Market Analysis. “Ecommerce has clearly become engrained for many consumers, cementing its place as the third sales channel for beverage alcohol purchase.”
While China has the largest proportion of online shippers, at nearly 60% of beverage alcoholic buyers, the US is the biggest driving force of the growth. While the market the highest proportion (54%) of online buyers who made their first purchase during the pandemic, it’s also seen average annual growth of around 20%, making it the top global market for online beverage alcohol.