Adapting to the Alcohol Purchasing Habits Caused by COVID-19

Since the COVID-19 lockdowns began people are drinking more than ever, and with the summer already underway it is unlikely it will slow down any time soon. However, for alcohol distributors, especially for those small operations greatly affected by COVID, it is important to note and understand that the way consumers purchase their alcohol is shifting. Due to the lockdown people have been forced to drink at home. The in-store and e-commerce alcohol sales are perfect proof that there is no shortage of drinking taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic. From the week ending on March 7th through the week ending on May 2nd Nielsen recorded an increase of 25.5% in alcohol sales from its in-store retail measurement. Since mid-March prominent Alcohol e-commerce sellers and apps have been reporting triple digit percentage increases in sales. On premises liquor sales and consumption are slowly returning, however distributors should be aware that, while the COVID purchasing trends might slightly subside, many of them will be here to stay. Here are some things to keep in mind while attempting to manager your alcohol-based business post COVID-19:


Delivery Apps: If you are a small brewery or distillery you may not have the staffing to fulfill online orders, and you most likely do not have the logistics in place to get customers their booze as quickly as they expect it. It is important to keep in mind that many liquor stores use these apps as a supplemental source of sales, and having your beverages stocked at these stores can be beneficial given recent trends. When expanding your distribution to new areas check to see if the stores you are dealing with are utilizing these apps.



Virtual Tastings:  Early on in the COVID-19 lockdown we published a blog about virtual tastings, and their presence has grown immensely. Whether you choose to administer a virtual tasting for just your brand, or you are participating in a virtual tasting event with other brands, this is a great opportunity to sell your product online. Make sure that when you are preparing for a virtual tasting you have a coupon/discount opportunity for participants to take advantage of following the tasting. Also, if you are sending out samples to participants be sure to include sampling cups as a convenience for attendees.



Offering Packages & Kits:  With permission to sell alcohol to-go, many restaurants and bars have started selling ingredients to signature cocktails in kits, either online or over the phone, for delivery or pick up. Smaller alcohol distributors can take advantage of this same strategy and can even use it to build effective partnerships. Take for example a fine wine company who knows one of their wines pairs nicely with a certain kind of cheese. The winery can partner with a seller of that type of cheese and start selling packages online. Pursuing opportunities like this not only creates a mutually beneficial partnership between your brand and a complimentary product, but also adapts your offerings to the evolving landscape of the industry.

Many places across the country are making their way through re-opening phases. And while we may begin to see some of these new alcohol purchasing trends level off, I think it is safe to say that things like increased alcohol e-commerce sales and virtual tastings are here to stay. Plan properly and make sure your business is well suited for the future of alcohol purchasing.