Online beer category a ‘huge area of opportunity’, says AB InBev

By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pic:getty/kuzmikA
Pic:getty/kuzmikA

Related tags: Beer, Ab inbev

Online purchasing makes up less than 1% of the US beer category – and therefore represents a ‘huge area of opportunity’, according to ZX Ventures, AB InBev’s global growth and innovation group.

In the US, online grocery shopping is expected to more than double between 2019 and 2020. And yet a third of US shoppers looking for small formats aren’t even aware that beer can be bought online.

ZX Ventures – which is focusing on ecommerce as one of its seven global business units -  surveyed 2,000 consumers in the US and UK on their online buying habits. It found five key trends in online beer buying.

And while it’s no surprise to see millennials in urban centres lead the market for online shopping, there’s also an opportunity for online retailers to offer convenience to older shoppers.

1. Awareness gap

A third (33%) of US small format shoppers still aren’t aware that you can buy beer online, according to ZX Venture’s survey. And yet there’s growing interest in buying beer online. The survey found that 30% of American beer shoppers are interested in buying beer online: up from 20% in 2017.

2. Beer can drive more purchases online

Nearly 70% of the American shoppers surveyed who had purchased beer online stated that beer was one of the major reasons - or even the only reason - driving their decision to go shopping. ZX Ventures says this indicates that beer has the opportunity to drive more online shopping missions.

3. Online: Millennials in city centres

The audience for small formats is considerably different online to in store. The online small format audience skews towards millennials and shoppers in urban areas. In addition, 32% of these consumers skip in-store small-format shopping entirely, preferring the virtual experience.

4. Craft continues to triumph

Online beer buyers are interested in craft brands: 54% of surveyed US consumers said they’d included a craft beer in their most recent online beer shop. That’s compared to 20% in-stores.

5. Brits want convenience

In the UK, the top driver of online shopping was convenience – a trend that applies across all age groups. In beer, the ease of delivery compared to the burden of physically carrying products from the store was a key factor.

And while online shopping might be associated with tech savvy millennials, this convenience benefit was particularly pronounced for shoppers over the age of 55 (56%), pointing to a potential selling point.

Regarding advice for retailers, the standout feedback among UK shoppers (24%) was keen interest in seeing offers of beer on the retailers’ homepage.

Online alcohol retailing

Beverage alcohol e-commerce in the US is broken down by wine (23%), spirits (32%) and beer (44%), according to figures IWSR.

And Rabobank’s latest figures estimate that US consumers spend $2.6bn on alcohol online​ a year – through online liquor stores ($1.1bn), direct-to-consumer wine online ($950m), online grocery ($295m) and alcohol marketplaces ($265m). But it believes this could be ‘billions more’,

Complex regulations between states can make online sales tricky. But grocers too can improve online sales by improving the user experience: such as with tasting notes, third-party ratings and filters such as price.

Related topics: Markets

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