Rabobank: Online alcohol sales to exceed $ 6 billion in 2021 and will continue to grow

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Report Finds Online Alcohol Sales Up 131% Since 2019, Far Outpacing All Food and Beverages

January 11 – NEW YORK – Online alcohol sales in the United States reached $ 6.1 billion in 2021 and greater growth is expected in 2022, according to a report based on exclusive industry data released today by Rabobank, one of the world’s leading food and agribusiness banks.

The “2022 Alcohol E-commerce Playbook” is the most comprehensive analysis of the American alcohol e-commerce market landscape. The report focuses on the remarkable growth in online alcohol sales since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the response from consumers, retailers and brands, and how businesses can lay the groundwork for future success in the channel. . The information in the report is based on unique data sources and exclusive Rabobank partnerships, as well as interviews with dozens of experts from alcohol companies that together account for 70% of alcohol sales in the United States. .

According to Rabobank:

  • Online sales now represent about 4% of all off-premises alcohol sales in the United States, up from nearly 1.9% in 2019.
  • The two most important channels for big brands and retailers – online grocery stores and marketplaces – have grown by 271% in just two years and are now almost four times larger than in 2019
  • Average Ecommerce Team Size at U.S. Alcohol Companies Has Grown 117% Since 2019
  • Rabobank predicts online alcohol sales to grow an additional 3.4% in 2022, a testament to the strength of the channel and continued investment from tech companies, brands and retailers

“Ecommerce will be the primary driver of industry growth over the next decade and a critical part of brand creation, awareness and testing, both online and in-store,” said said Bourcard Nesin, analyst and author at RaboResearch F&A. of the report. “Companies that fail to proactively invest in their e-commerce teams will struggle to stay relevant and maintain market share. “

The report provides an overview of recent performance and future estimates for the industry’s four main e-commerce channels:

  • Online grocery store: With online alcohol purchases increasing 238% in 2020 and 9% in 2021 despite difficult conditions, many grocery retailers now see alcohol as the most important lever available to drive their overall growth. electronic commerce activity. Driven by a massive increase in the number of outlets offering alcohol online, the category’s sales growth more than doubled that of the overall online grocery business. For example, at the end of 2019, only 200 Walmart stores delivered alcohol, but by the end of 2021, there were 1,500 that delivered alcohol. Alcohol sales in the channel are expected to increase by 15% in 2022, according to Rabobank estimates.
  • Online alcohol markets: The pandemic has helped markets like Drizly and Instacart acquire millions of customers and add thousands of stores to their retail networks. This combination resulted in 274% year-on-year growth in the channel in 2020. The success of the channel has resulted in significant M&A activity, with the most notable transaction being the acquisition of Drizly by Uber in 2021. The growth of the channel has led to a massive influx of marketing dollars from alcohol brands, largely to Instacart and Drizly, which hold an 86% market share of sales in the channel. Rabobank estimates that the channel will grow by 15% in 2022.
  • Authorized specialist retailers: The channel, which includes major liquor store chains, state-owned stores and thousands of independent stores offering online offering, grew 151% in 2020. Growth was driven by operators offering delivery local and curbside pickup for the first time. time. The chain, which was historically dominated by high-end consumers and collectors looking for hard-to-find wines, is now better positioned to serve the general public and their day-to-day needs, bringing this very important but relatively mature part of the world to life. online market. alcohol ecosystem.
  • Online wine direct to consumer (DtC): The growth in online DtC sales over the past two years has likely kept hundreds of small and medium-sized wineries from shutting down. With tasting room sales devastated by the pandemic, online DtC wine sales increased 73% in 2020. While tasting room sales broke records in 2021, online DtC sales remained strong above pre-pandemic levels, suggesting that online sales represent a major source of additional revenue in the DtC wine market. In total, Rabobank estimates that online sales account for about 23% of the US $ 7.2 billion direct-to-consumer wine business.

The “2022 Alcohol E-commerce Playbook” also outlines strategies for CEOs seeking to develop the digital capabilities of their organizations and offers data to help them assess their investment in e-commerce. Underpinning Rabobank’s unprecedented access to industry leaders, the report features many original quotes, including ideas from e-commerce leaders at six of America’s ten largest liquor companies.

“The industry is going through a structural change, a huge opportunity,” Nesin said. “I just hope industry leaders have the foresight to take advantage of it.”

About Rabobank

The Rabobank Group is a global leader in financial services providing wholesale and retail banking, leasing and real estate services in more than 38 countries around the world. Founded over a century ago, Rabobank is today one of the largest banks in the world with more than $ 765 billion in assets. In the Americas, Rabobank is a leading bank for the food, agri-food and beverage industry, providing industry expertise, strategic advice and tailored financial solutions to clients throughout the food value chain. Additional information is available on our website or on our social media platforms, including Twitter and LinkedIn.

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