The Takeaway: Ecommerce has changed the playing field in the alcohol industry. Between delivery services such as Drizly and modern shopping demands, breweries, wineries and distilleries (such as Heineken and Jack Daniel's) need to get in gear and start providing consistent, accurate and detailed product content on all ecommerce channels.
So many industries have already realized that product content consistency across ecommerce channels is the way to engage, entice, and ultimately sell to consumers.
Alcohol brands currently still rely on distributors to handle product content. In a world where 88% of consumers say their number one purchase driver is detailed product content, brands need to take control of their product content strategy and, at a higher level, their overall digital branding strategy. After all, historically, the three-tier distribution system - in which alcoholic beverage companies sell to wholesalers which bring products to retailers - has separated them from the consumer. All that's changing due in part to ecommerce-based delivery services such as Drizly, MiniBar, DrinkIn, Thirstie, Klink and more, and it's otherwise caused by shifting demands from customers and fewer regulations on online channels.
Delivery services alone are set to completely disrupt the alcohol, wine and beer industries: Lindsey Andrews, co-founder and co-CEO of Minibar told MarketWatchMag that sales have increased 20 percent for retailers that have started to use the delivery service. Devaraj Southworth, CEO of Thirstie, said that someday 10 percent of transactions in some markets will occur in this sector. It could be even bigger than that. Beverage Dynamics reported that the alcohol delivery industry experienced $2 billion in sales in 2015.
"On-demand is the last frontier in beverage alcohol retailing," Southworth said. "It's been done in every other industry."
A shot of reality
What does this mean for distilleries, wineries and breweries? Retailers might be the ones working with delivery services, but they've passed the branding torch to those brands, expecting them to handle product content. In some cases, they even demand more product information. As a result, they finally have control over their product content - and with that control comes great responsibility.
"Simply 'being on' Drizly, Minibar, Thirstie and more won't be enough"
But, simply "being on" Drizly, Minibar, Thirstie and more won't be enough if alcohol brands want to seize the opportunities that ecommerce channels afford and increase market share and revenue. They need to optimize the appearance of products on those sites and apps as well as their own and on other ecommerce channels such as Amazon.
Take Business Insider's recent article on millennial drinkers for example: These companies are dealing with a new market, and they're struggling to envision and launch ecommerce strategies for this space. As Business Insider reported, millennials want authentic stories and accurate detailed information, not taglines. They want to be inspired to buy a product, and this is especially important on digital channels since they have choice. Alcohol brands need to answer that call and demonstrate their value to consumers whenever and however they choose to buy beer, wine and alcohol these days.
In the Internet era, consumers want relevant, accurate and consistent product information - they base their decisions on that content. That means breweries, distilleries and wineries need a way to create, manage and syndicate that product information on all ecommerce platforms - all while following best practices and ensuring consistency across channels. They've never had the opportunity to care with distributors and regulations always in the way. Well, that means that now is a better time than ever for these companies to invest in product content.
A strategy to drink to
Alcohol brands need product content. How else do they hope to attract customers on sites and apps like Drizly? How do they expect to accommodate retailers' product content demands? These are the two most important questions in the alcoholic beverage industry right now.
With detailed, interesting product content, alcohol brands will be able to better engage consumers on their own websites as well as others. It immerses customers in brands and a branded experience. They'll stay longer and learn more - and the companies will earn more sales as a result.
It's not rocket science. Alcohol brands are in a similar position to other CPG manufacturers, but it's a bit more dire in this industry given the circumstances. Delivery services are forcibly disrupting the status quo, and consumers and retailers such as Amazon want more product information every day. Breweries, wineries and distilleries need to meet those demands.
It should be pretty clear that brands must invest in ecommerce to succeed in 2016, and that entails being able to provide consistent product information across all channels. That's what required to reach consumers wherever and in whatever ways consumers want. It's the age of distributed commerce and delivery services - distilleries, wineries and brewers must adapt!